Pinchgut Opera has announced the formation of the Taryn Fiebig Scholar program, which will help support the development an emerging Australian opera singer with special promise. The scholarship has been established to honour the significant legacy of Australian soprano Taryn Fiebig, who died on 20 March, 2021 at the age of 49 after a long illness. Fiebig was aware of the idea and was delighted, said Pinchgut Opera Artistic Director, Erin Helyard.

Taryn Fiebig performing in Rameau’s Pigmalion for Pinchgut Opera. Photograph © Patrick Boland

Pinchgut Opera will identify and appoint a scholar every two years. The chosen singer, who will be recommended by Helyard, will participate in Pinchgut productions and events as part of a mentorship program, which will focus on: the importance of text and expression; the creation and projection of vocal beauty; approaching a musical score and libretto as a singing actor; the use of posture, dance, gesture and movement to portray a character; learning how and when to step forward and claim the limelight; fostering a collegiate approach with respect to every member of the company; and learning how to make a unique contribution to a performance of excellence.

James Beck has provided invaluable assistance and support to Pinchgut Opera in order to help them create the program. The first scholar will be announced in the middle of this year.

Fiebig not only sang regularly with Opera Australia, where she began her operatic career as a member of the Young Artists Program in 2004, she also forged a close relationship with Pinchgut Opera, appearing in their productions of Vivaldi’s Farnace in 2019 and Rameau’s Anacréon and Pigmalion in 2017. One of her final performances was in Pinchgut’s film A Delicate Fire, set to the madrigals of 17th-century Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi, which was shot in 2020 during the COVID lockdown.

Speaking to Limelight, Helyard said: “We wanted to honour Taryn’s legacy in a meaningful way, and I proposed to her in one of my final visits that we inaugurate the Taryn Fiebig Scholar at Pinchgut Opera to support and mentor young artists in all of the things that Taz excelled at. She was absolutely delighted. I would like to thank my dear friend James Beck who helped us greatly in those last days; he was essential in helping us formulate the foundations of the program.”

Cressida Griffith, Pinchgut’s General Manager told Limelight: “We wanted to ensure Taryn’s impact and influence continued in how we support and nurture the next generation of Australian singers. Many of Taryn’s last major performances were with Pinchgut Opera – she had become a close part of our Pinchgut family. We look forward to honouring Taryn through the Taryn Fiebig Scholar program and will ensure the particular facets that made Taryn an extraordinarily magnetic performer can be shared and nurtured in emerging Australian performers.”

More information about the Taryn Fiebig Scholar program, including how to donate, can be found on the Pinchgut Opera website   

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