Alumnus News: New Zealand Baritone Chris Berentson to sing title role in Don Giovanni in Germany

It’s always a pleasure to hear from our alumnus but the recent news from Chris Berentson was extra special! Chris has been cast in the title role in Don Giovanni in the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar’s 2023 Summer Season. He has been working full time for the past two months with his voice teacher and vocal coach to prepare for the role and told us he feels “fortunate that my time at the NZ Opera School has helped me to give my all to this preparation.”

It is always humbling to receive emails like this from our alumnus, many of whom are achieving international acclaim for their performances. We are very grateful that Chris recognises the contribution the School has made to his singing career and we wish him all the very best for the season ahead.

“I am a proud alumnus of the school, and I hope that my news is also reason for you to be proud of the outstanding work that you continue to do for singers in this country.”

Read the official media release below:

NZ Baritone Chris Berentson received the ‘dream come true’ news recently that he will sing the title role in Lyric Opera Studio Weimar’s 2023 summer season of Don Giovanni. Mr Berentson was selected from hundreds of applicants to take on one of Mozart’s greatest roles in a fully staged production to be sung in Italian. He will join a cast of international singers at the prestigious opera course in Germany. Mr Berentson will be coached by singers and repetiteurs from the top opera houses of Europe and the UK, towards performances at the historic Weimar Opera House in late July. Casting agents from some of Germany’s leading agencies and Opera Houses will attend the season. The studio has also offered him a part scholarship which he says, ‘completely blew me away’, as he had not applied for any financial assistance.

Mr Berentson’s audition for the role included recordings of two Mozart arias, made in December 2022 at a historic villa on the hills of Hataitai in Wellington New Zealand. Accompanied by New Zealand pianist Catherine Norton, this venue was an ideal aural backdrop for presenting Mozart’s arias.

Mr Berentson said, ‘Mozart has been, and continues to be central to my study, so to have this opportunity at this important stage of my career is incredible. The chance to not only sing in Germany, but to perform an entire role in a full production for agents is a dream come true’.

He studied at the Australian National University under acclaimed NZ teacher Anthea Moller and holds a Master of Music with first class honours from that school. He is also an alumnus of the New Zealand Opera School, and currently studies with Wellington Mezzo Soprano, Linden Loader.

Mr Berentson has previously performed baritone roles in several Mozart Operas including Cosi fan Tutte and Le Nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni will complete his cycle of Mozart’s three greatest operas. “Every time I have had a chance to sing a Mozart role it has been like an entry into some magical realm, where the drama unfolds within the music. Now, to be able to take on possibly his greatest baritone role….I don’t think it could get much better than this”.

Photo credit: Celia Walmsley @stageboxphotography


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