Five sopranos and a tenor have been announced as finalists in this year’s Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award, which boasts a total prize pool valued at $95,000. Eliza Bloom, Kiandra Howarth, Michelle Ryan, Zoe Drummond, Cleo Lee-McGowan and Damian Arnold will vie for the $30,000 Award and trophy in September.

Kiandra Howarth. Photo © Victoria Cadisch

Other prizes on offer include the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto Prize, a three-week summer school placement in Tuscany; the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival Prize, a three-week bel canto course; and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Prize, a performance opportunity in the Choirs’ upcoming season. The competition is open to singers from Australia and New Zealand between the ages of 20 and 30. Last year’s winner was New Zealand tenor Benson Wilson.

Finalists for the Elizabeth Connell Prize for Aspiring Dramatic Sopranos, traditionally held alongside the Bel Canto Award, have also been announced. Open to sopranos from around the world aged 25 to 34, who demonstrate the potential to move into dramatic repertoire, the Elizabeth Connell Prize awards the overall winner $25,000. The five finalists are Kseniia Galitskaia (Russia), Felicia Moore (USA), Hannakaisa Nyrönen (Finland), Sonja Šarić (Serbia), and Australian Kiandra Howarth. Howarth holds the distinction of being the first finalist to ever appear in both the Bel Canto and Elizabeth Connell competitions. Last year’s winner was French soprano Claire de Monteil.

Finalists will perform with pianist David Harper in front of a panel of esteemed judges consisting of Bernadatte Cullen, Fiona Janes and Richard Bonynge himself.


The Preliminary Final of both competitions will be held at Eugene Goossens Hall, Ultimo on September 5. The Grand Final will be held at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music on September 7

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