Georgia Wilkinson, a 26-year-old soprano from Surry Hills, has won this year’s $35,000 Herald Sun Aria Prize, regarded as Australia’s richest singing prize for emerging classical singers. Presented in partnership with Melbourne Opera, past recipients include sopranos Nicole Car and Natalie Aroyan.

Georgia Wilkinson. Photo © Chris Parker

The competition, held at Melbourne Recital Centre on Wednesday, saw Wilkinson and her fellow finalists – soprano Jessica Harper, baritone Stephen Marsh, mezzo-soprano Chloe Harris and tenor Joshua Oxley – perform two arias each in front of a live audience and three-person adjudicating panel. The singers were accompanied by the Melbourne Opera Orchestra conducted by Greg Hocking.

Wilkinson, who secured her win by singing showpieces Caro nome and Je veux vivre, told Limelight that she is “extraordinarily excited and honoured to have won such a prestigious competition, especially having been up against such wonderfully talented singers.”

“To follow the likes of [past recipients] Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major and Jonathan Summers, just to name a few, is a surreal feeling, and I’m not quite sure it’s sunk in yet! I stepped straight back into the rehearsal room the day after winning so I think I won’t be able to fully process it all until I’ve got a little time off.”

Wilkinson, who is about to perform in Jekyll and Hyde and in Opera Australia’s upcoming Turandot in Melbourne, has not yet decided what to do with the prize money.

“I truly was not anticipating that I’d win this competition, so I haven’t planned how to spend this incredibly generous prize yet, but I’m very keen to travel overseas for further training so that’s definitely high up on the list. I’m very passionate about pursuing my career in Australia and I’d therefore love to go overseas to gather more knowledge and experience in this art form and then bring that all back to Australia to share.”

Also recognised on the evening were Chloe Harris and Joshua Oxley, who received the $10,000 Richard Divall Prize and $10,000 John Fulford Prize respectively.