The national opera company selects four young singers from regional Australia who will get to learn from the best.

Four talented teenagers have been announced as the winners of the 2017 Opera Australia Regional Student Scholarships. Held annually, the competition is open to senior secondary students across regional Australia. This year, Jeremy Boulton (Mount Ousley, NSW), Lisette Bolton (Kooringal, NSW), Katrina Wiseman (Hackett, ACT), and Keelin Rowe (Turner, ACT) bested more than 50 finalists for the chance to receive professional training from the pros at Opera Australia.

The four winners: Katrina Wiseman, Jeremy Boulton, Keelin Rowe and Lisette Bolton

“There is an enormous amount of talent in this country, and after the success of last year’s scholarship program, we were looking forward to seeing the new round of winners in Sydney,” said Opera Australia’s Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini.

“The Regional Student Scholarship is a really exciting initiative. We already develop young singers through our Young Artist Program but the Regional Student Scholarship allows us to work with a younger group – senior secondary students – who might be considering a career in opera. It is important for us to nurture and support these talented individuals with their journey into the music industry.”

The winners will participate in music, acting, and movement workshops; undergo vocal coaching; see performances at the Opera House; and go on a behind the scenes tour of The Opera Centre and the Sydney Opera House. They will also have the nerve-wracking task of performing an aria for OA’s Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini, who helped select the winners.

OA’s Children’s Chorus Master Joshua van Konkelenberg, responsible for shortlisting the applicants, was able to give Limelight his unique perspective on the competition. For instance, young singers auditioned with a wide range of repertoire, encompassing pop, folk, music theatre, and opera. Of the finalists, he commented that they “all had a solid technique – they were singing the kind of repertoire you would expect to hear at a professional concert.”

He emphasised the importance of “great role models” in imbuing young people with a love of opera. Mere exposure is inadequate, he stresses, “you need it to be communicated to you” by “passionate teachers and performers” who “show the joy and whole life of an artist, and this is always so exciting.”

“There are three things that any artist needs,” he asserts. “The first is they have a feeling to express, the second is a solid technique—that they make a beautiful sound—and the third is that these are both connected. I don’t think about potential, but when you can see the whole artist in a microcosm—someone who has their feelings and their technique sorted, no matter how young—then this is something special and unique.”

Launched in 2014, the Scholarship aims to improve OA’s presence in regional Australia. In conjunction with OA’s Regional Children’s Chorus and Education Workshops, it hopes to find new audiences and performers in remote and regional Australia.