Soprano Kiandra Howarth has taken home this year’s $30,000 Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award. As well as receiving the $1000 Audience Choice Prize, Howarth also placed third in the Elizabeth Connell Prize for Aspiring Dramatic Sopranos, winning $5000. A former member of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme, the 29-year-old Gold Coast-born soprano holds the distinction of being the first finalist to ever participate in both competitions.

Kiandra Howarth. Photo © Zohar Izenberg

Howarth secured her Bel Canto Award win with a performance of Dove sono from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from Puccini’s La Rondine. In the Elizabeth Connell Prize, the soprano sang Das war sehr gut, Mandryka from Strauss’ Arabella and Senza Mamma from Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

Coming in second in the Bel Canto Award, New Zealand soprano Eliza Bloom took home the $10,000 Richard Bonynge Award, while Australian soprano Michelle Ryan received the $5000 DECCA Award for placing third.

Hannakaisa Nyrönen. Photo © Zohar Izenberg

The winner of the $25,000 Elizabeth Connell Prize was 34-year-old Hannakaisa Nyrönen from Finland. A graduate of Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and the recipient of a Bayreuth Scholarship from the Wagner Society of Finland, Nyrönen secured her win with a performance of Deh se piacer mi vuoi from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and Der Männer Sippe from Wagner’s Die Walküre.

Serbian soprano Sonja Šarić came in second, winning $10,000 as well as the $1000 Audience Prize. She was also awarded the DECCA Award of $2,000 by Universal Music.

The judges for the Elizabeth Connell Prize were Richard Bonynge, Bernadette Cullen, Fiona Janes, Jennifer McGregor and Patricia Price.