Anna Simmons, Felicity Tomkins and Harry Grigg were the 2020 Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artists with New Zealand Opera.
They recently completed their internship with a captivating performance of operatic scenes, directed by 2018 New Zealand Opera School director Jon Hunter and superbly accompanied by Rosemary Barnes. The performance was called “…it is animal”, as the artists drew on the animalistic tendencies that love can bring out in humanity.
The hour-long performance was energetic, raw, emotive and captivating as the singers incorporated the techniques and skills they had worked on during the year with their mentors. The programme was fresh and exciting with scenes from Billy Budd, The Rake’s Progress, Falstaff, Rinaldo, Don Giovanni and A Streetcar Named Desire.
“I was amazed at the variety of styles and the excellent way they all coped with the changing keys, scenes and languages. I hope to be able to attend more such events in the future from them and future Studio Artists.”
– Dame Malvina Major
2020 presented many challenges for the Studio Artists this year as the pandemic brought about the premature end to the Opera in Schools tour for Harry, the postponement of The Marriage of Figaro for Anna, in which she was to play Barbarina, and also just recently, the cancellation of their concert with Manukau Symphony Orchestra. However, during lockdown they continued with language coachings and lessons via Zoom. Once restrictions lifted they were back at the New Zealand Opera studio three days a week having coachings, lessons, acting classes and personal development sessions.
“We have been so very impressed by the commitment that Anna, Felicity and Harry have shown in developing their artistry this year. Despite trying circumstances, we are thrilled to have been able to deliver a progressive and professional programme, that challenged and extended them as singers and performers. We will watch with great interest as their careers develop over the coming years.”
– Glenn Meade (Artist Development Manager), Kristin Darragh (Artistic Contracts and Resource Manager), New Zealand Opera)
After receiving a full-fees scholarship, Harry will soon travel to London to begin his studies at the Royal College of Music. At the same time, Anna and her baritone husband, Angus, will travel to Germany as they embark on many exciting development opportunities throughout Europe. Felicity will, October, be understudying the role of Elle in New Zealand Opera’s production of The Human Voice by Poulenc.
The New Zealand Opera School is extremely proud of these three young artists and commend them on their fantastic achievements this year. We look forward to watching their development closely as they begin their careers in opera and we wish them all the best.
Article & Photographs supplied by Angus Simmons.