Jonathan Abernethy wins 2014 Opera Awards
Posted on 18 December 2014
Earlier this month NZ tenor Jonathan Abernethy was named as the winner of the 2014 Opera Awards (Australia).
The Awards include the Youth Music Foundation of Australia Award of A$30,000, the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship of A$4,500 and entry to the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme which gives artists the opportunity to participate in a high-calibre international masterclass course or opera production led by eminent musicians in the UK.
In 2011 Jonathan was the winner of the Joan F Stevens and Opera Australia Awards at the New Zealand Singing School in Napier which ultimately led to an invitation to join the prestigious Opera Australia Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist Programme in Sydney. While with Opera Australia, he has sung many roles including the parts of Don Ottavio in Oz Opera’s Don Giovanni, Ruiz in Il Trovatore and Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Jonathan’s performance as Fenton in the recent production of Falstaff received excellent review – ‘Much in demand lovely soprano Taryn Fiebig shines as Alice’s daughter Nannetta, her voice sweet and pure is particularly beguiling, especially for her handsome suitor Fenton, played with great tenderness by Jonathon Abernethy. His lyrical tenor voice is a superb instrument, one in which art meets the heart, in a style that is pure, natural and clear, his exquisite phrasing born of musical intelligence. This young man exhibits true staying power. His aria in Act 3 Dal labbro il canto, or Fenton’s aria, was quite breathtaking.’
Prior to his move to Sydney with Opera Australia, he studied with Isabel Cunningham and Professor Terence Dennis from the renowned vocal studies department of Otago University’s School of Music.
Jonathan has been supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation since 2011 through regular mentoring by Dame Kiri and a series of tuition and travel grants that has allowed him to continue tuition with Isabel Cunningham.
Obviously thrilled with this latest success Jonathan shared his feelings with Aria – “I am overwhelmed and delighted to have received the Opera Award which has come as a wonderful surprise at a pivotal stage in my career. Over the past two years with Opera Australia I have learned valuable lessons in stagecraft, music, and performance that would have been hard to attain elsewhere.
“This award will allow me to evaluate my position, and then spend dedicated time overseas working on skills that will solidify my vocal technique and build on the base I have established in the Young Artist programme at Opera Australia. In essence the time spent in the next few years working to achieve the ideal technique for my voice will ensure my vocal longevity and will provide a foundation that should help me achieve an Operatic singing career. Some of this can only be achieved by taking time out from ‘work’ in order to give me the time to work on these skills.
“I am extremely grateful to my mentors and supporters and all those involved in the Opera Award and its sponsors. This award will augment the support I already receive from the Dame Kiri Te Konawa Foundation.
I’d like to thank my supporters and mentors here at Opera Australia specifically Lyndon Terracini, Tony Legge, and language coach Nicole Dorigo and OA coaching staff. I’d also like to thank in particular Dame Kiri for the one on one masterclasses in May during her recent Tour of Australia and New Zealand, with Professor Terence Dennis and Isabel Cunningham.”
In 2015, Jonathan’s performances for Opera Australia will include Tamino in The Magic Flute and Lerma in Don Carlos.