Australia is a young country, with a much shorter tradition of opera than our counterparts in Europe and even America.
But for all that, we really punch above our weight when it comes to giving opportunities to young artists.
There’s a relative smorgasboard of prizes and scholarships on offer if you’ve got the goods to beat the competition, and now there’s a new kid on the block.
On Sunday December 8, many of Sydney’s best known opera identities and enthusiasts gathered at the Fairfax residence Elaine to launch a generous new award for early-career Australian opera singers.
Established in the name of the late Dame Heather Begg, the award offers early career artists $20,000 to underwrite ongoing operatic study and professional development within Australia or internationally.
Dame Heather’s long and distinguished operatic career encouraged in her a desire to support the development of promising young opera singers. To this purpose, she made provision in her will to establish a valuable singing award. Following her passing, the trustees of her estate – Moffatt Oxenbould AM, Joe Diflo and Kathy Grinberg – have carried out her wishes and established the Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award in collaboration with the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust.
Baritone Samuel Dundas is the inaugural recipient of the award, chosen by Oxenbould in consultation with Melba Opera Trust Artistic Advisor Sharolyn Kimmorley AM.
Oxenbould said the legacy would be of great benefit to young singers.
“Dame Heather Begg’s generous legacy in setting up this Award will significantly benefit young singers of today – with dreams and aspirations similar to hers early in her own notable career – who are being assisted and encouraged to pursue the excellence that she so often achieved.”
Melba Opera Trust General Manager Amy McPartlan-Black said “We are truly delighted that this inaugural Award is going to such a worthy and gifted young artist. Both Moffatt and Sharolyn shared a long artistic association and friendship with Dame Heather Begg, and feel confident that Dame Heather would enthusiastically approve their choice”.
Congratulations Samuel – we can’t wait to see where your career goes!
You can read a very honest interview about Samuel’s journey so far here.