New and returning world’s best at New Zealand Opera School


Two wonderful international vocal tutors will head the line-up for the New Zealand Opera School for January 2020. For the first time we are delighted to have secured Italian Soprano Santi (Nuccia) Focile and joining her will be our dear friend César Ulloa from San Francisco.

Seattle 2013 - Elle in La Voix Humaine

Seattle 2013 – Elle in La Voix Humaine


Nuccia Focile was born in Sicily, and studied in Turin. In 1984 she sang her first Mimi in La Boheme at the Teatro Regio in Turin and made her debut as Oscar in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at La Scala in 1986. Also in that year, she won the International Pavarotti Competition in Philadelphia, following which she made many concert appearances with the famous tenor. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1995.

She has been teaching since 2011 at the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff, alongside Dennis O’Neill and has now joined the Faculty at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

Seattle 2009 - Violetta in La Traviata

Seattle 2009 – Violetta in La Traviata

Professor César Ulloa is an internationally recognized teacher whose students perform regularly at major operatic and concert stages of the world. He is master teacher at the renowned Adler and Merola opera programs of San Francisco Opera, and Chair of Voice at San Francisco Conservatoire. Cesar has strong connections with New Zealand Opera School having tutored for us twice before, and having a very strong list of New Zealand students in San Francisco including Pene and Amitai Pati, Amina Edris, Isabella Moore, Edward Laurenson and Natasha Wilson. He himself studied voice with Thomas Hayward and Franco Corelli.

César Ulloa

César Ulloa

César Ulloa

César Ulloa is considered by many to be the best singing teacher in the world, says NZ Opera School director Jonathan Alver.  “He came to teaching from a long and successful opera stage career and says that hearing stars such as Caballé, Carreras and Kraus both on-stage and in rehearsal trained his ear to hear how young singers voices will develop. He and Nuccia will make a wonderful team for our 2020 student intake.”

Alongside the international tutors we are proud to announce that for the first time we will be joined by director and drama coach, Jacqueline Coats. Jacqui is well known to the New Zealand opera scene and received rave reviews for her recent production of La Boheme for NZ Opera. She will make a great addition to our exceptional team of opera and music professionals including Sharolyn Kimmorley, Terence Dennis and Bruce Greenfield.  We expect to announce further members of the faculty later in the year.

The New Zealand Opera School 2020 will take place from January 6 to 19 on the campus of Wanganui Collegiate. The 21 student places will be keenly contested. “With such a great teaching line-up, we encourage intending students to start on their recordings and applications now” says school director Jonathan Alver.

The closing date for applications is 5pm Friday 12th July 2019.

Dated 29/5/19    For more information about NZ Opera School see details at


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