Scholarship helps talented singer find her voice

04 July 2014

A passion for singing has landed a University of Auckland student a coveted internship with New Zealand Opera. Emily Scott, who has been a keen singer since she was a child, is one of only five artists awarded a prestigious NZ Opera Freemasons Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists 2014/2015 Scholarship.

The twenty four year-old, who is in her final-year of a Bachelor of Music degree majoring in classical performance voice, had never performed in an opera before her successful audition, having come from mainly a jazz and musical theatre background. But she was encouraged to try-out by her performance teacher Patricia Wright and admits she was stunned by the achievement.

“One judge asked me if I’d ever sung in an opera before and I had to confess that I hadn’t” says Emily. “I realised then that I was probably one of the most inexperienced people to audition and was glad that I had chosen two intense contrasting pieces in the hope that the panel would see some potential in me.”

Lack of classical and operatic experience has not hampered Emily, who was last week revealed as an Emerging Artist in an annual concert at the Aotea Centre. The main intern period with New Zealand Opera starts from November and involves understudying, comprimario roles and singing as part of the Chapman Tripp opera chorus.

The talented singer, who spent a year after high school debating whether she should pursuing a singing career, has appeared in numerous musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story. She applied to the School of Music at the University and hasn’t looked back. “My study has provided me with amazing opportunities, such as master classes with overseas professionals to learn more about my technique and  become a better vocalist,” she says.

Emily has now fully embraced the classical genre. ” I thought I would really miss musical theatre but I love the depth and intensity of opera,” says Emily. “I know that this is just the beginning and will entail a lot of hard work but I still feel very lucky because this scholarship allows me to follow my singing dreams”.

The aspiring soprano has just finished her first opera, performing in the chorus of La Traviata, and she will begin rehearsals for Don Giovanni shortly. Emily will be fully active over six months with New Zealand Opera receiving vocal, stagecraft and language coaching as well as performing, before completing her Honours degree with the University of Auckland and then heading off overseas to start a Masters degree.