Seven sopranos, three mezzos and a baritone have been selected as semi finalists in this year’s IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. The 11 hopefuls will perform two pieces each in order to secure their place in the final, held September 8 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where they will be accompanied by the Opera Australia Orchestra. Five singers will progress to the next round with a chance at winning the premier award on offer, the Marianne Mathy Scholarship valued at $30,000.

The semi finalists of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. L-R: Cleo Lee-McGowan, Georgia Melville, Josie Ann Ellem, Katherine McIndoe, Nicole Mealey, Pasquale Orchard, Shakira Tsindos, Sophie Sparrow, Tristan Entwistle, Xenia Puskarz Thomas, Zoe Drummond.

The semi finalists are soprano Zoe Drummond (VIC), soprano Josi Ann Ellem (NSW), baritone Tristan Entwistle (NSW), soprano Cleo Lee-McGowan (NSW), soprano Katherine McIndoe (New Zealand), mezzo soprano Nicole Mealey (WA), soprano Georgia Melville (NSW), soprano Pasquale Orchard (New Zealand), mezzo soprano Xenia Puskarz Thomas (Queensland), soprano Sophie Sparrow (New Zealand) and mezzo soprano Shakira Tsindos (VIC).

Now in its third decade and thought to be the richest of its kind, the ASC offers a suite of scholarships, prizes, and professional development opportunities that come close to totalling $200,000. Open to those under the age of 26 from Australia or New Zealand, previous competition winners include opera stars Stuart Skelton, Amelia Farrugia, Jessica Pratt and Anna Dowsley. Last year’s Mathy winner was New Zealand tenor Filipe Manu, who in addition to receiving the $30,000 Scholarship received an opportunity to audition for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s professional artist development program and a one hour studio recording session courtesy of Fine Music 102.5.

Simply known as the Marianne Mathy Scholarship in its early days, the ASC was renamed in 2014 to honour its patron Dr Haruhisa Handa, who is involved in sponsoring Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

The Semi Finals will be held at the Eugene Goossens Hall, August 11

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