History of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition

The IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition evolved from the Marianne Mathy Scholarship, which was established through a bequest made in the will of Marianne Mathy-Frisdane, an operatic soprano and distinguished teacher who trained many well-known Australian singers.

Recognised as Australasia’s richest competition for opera and classical singing, in just over three decades some 2,600 singers have entered the Competition and won approaching $3 million in prizes, plus many career opportunities (not including the ASC Contemporary Section, see right) have been awarded.

The Marianne Mathy Scholarship remains the premier award of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. This is currently valued in excess of $50,000 – comprised of a select suite of prizes and opportunities that complement and support the Scholarship, which includes the limited edition Drago Marin Cherina bronze statuette known as ‘The Mathy.’

The Marianne Mathy Scholarship and the Competition are managed and administered by Music & Opera Singers Trust Limited (MOST®), a not-for-profit organisation that provides professional services for competitions, events, scholarships, prizes, awards and grants.

 

Why the Australian Singing Competition?

In 1983 MOST® made the decision to promote the Marianne Mathy Scholarship as a competition for young opera and classical singers, and to establish a separate section for contemporary singers. Both sections were to come under the umbrella of the ‘Australian Singing Competition’.

‘The Mathy’ was the premier award of the Opera & Classical Section. From 1985 the ‘Grace Bros Prize’ was the major prize within the Contemporary Section. From 1985 to 1989 both sections ran parallel to but separate from one another under the banner ‘Australian Singing Competition’. The Contemporary Section of the ASC proved a popular success, but sadly was suspended in 1990 (see history, right).

Today, ‘The Mathy’ remains the premier award of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition.

Over the decades the Australian Singing Competition has evolved to consist of many scholarships, awards, prizes and career opportunities – all aimed at supporting the career development of young Australian and New Zealand opera and classical singers. Over the years these have included the Handa Prize, the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Award, the Foster Award, YMF Award, opportunities at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester – to name but a few.

Prizes & Opportunities

The Opera Awards

As the Australian Singing Competition has evolved, it has split into two streams: one for singers under the age of 26, the other for professional opera singers.

Since 2001, the professional stream has been its own, privately judged, competition: the Opera Awards. The premier prize is the YMF Australia Award, valued at $30,000.

Opera Awards
Past Competitions
2017 IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition
Major Sponsor
  • Dr Haruhisa Handa, International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC)
Marianne Mathy Scholarship
  • 68 Contestants
  • Winner NZ Tenor Filipe Manu, 24
MasterClass
  • Monday 5 June 2017
  • National Adjudicator Catrin Johnsson, David Harper and the five ASC Finalists
  • Venue The Independent Theatre, North Sydney
National Adjudicator
  • Catrin Johnsson
Adjudicators Heats
  • London (UK) Monday 3 April: David Harper, Linnhe Robertson, Yvonne Kenny
  • NSW Monday 3 April & Tuesday 4 April: Barry Ryan, Taryn Fiebig
  • QLD Sunday 9 April Jason Barry-Smith, Natalie Peluso
  • VIC Wednesday 5 April: Suzanne Johnston, Andrea Katz
  • WA Friday 7 April: Thomas Johnson, Fiona McAndrew
  • Auckland, NZ Saturday 1 April: Stuart Maunder AM, Gina Sanders
Adjudicators Semi-Finals
  • Tahu Matheson
  • Emma Matthews
  • Raff Wilson
  • Narelle Yeo
Adjudicators Finals
  • Tahu Matheson
  • Noëmi Nadelmann
  • Olafur Sigurdarson
  • Raff Wilson
  • Narelle Yeo
Semi Finals Concert
  • Sunday 4 June 2017
  • The Independent Theatre, North Sydney
  • Accompanist David Harper
  • Compere Camille Merčep
Semi-Finalists
  • Damian Arnold, Tenor, 25, NSW
  • Livia Brash, Soprano 25, NSW
  • Daniel Carison, Baritone, 24, VIC
  • Paull-Anthony Keightley, Bass Baritone, 25, WA
  • Jae Kwon (Joseph) Kim, Baritone, 22, NSW
  • Lauren Lodge-Campbell, Soprano, 24, UK
  • Imogen-Faith Malfitano, Soprano, 24, NSW
  • Filipe Manu, Tenor, 24, NZ
  • Katherine McIndoe, Soprano, 23, NZ
  • Shikara Ringdahl, Mezzo Soprano, 25, QLD
  • Natasha Wilson, Soprano, 23 NZ
Finals Concert
  • Saturday 15 July 2017
  • Concert Hall, The Concourse, Chatswood
  • In the presence of Sir John Key GNZM AC
  • Opera Australia Orchestra conducted by Dr. Nicholas Milton AM
  • Compere Margaret Throsby
Finalists
  • Damian Arnold, Tenor, 25 NSW
  • Daniel Carison, Baritone, 24, VIC
  • Paull-Anthony Keightley, Bass Baritone, 25, WA
  • Filipe Manu, Tenor, 24, NZ
  • Shikara Ringdahl, Mezzo Soprano, 25, QLD
2016 IFAC Australian Singing Competition
Major Sponsor
  • Dr Haruhisa Handa, International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC)
Marianne Mathy Scholarship
  • 86 contestants
  • Winner NSW Counter Tenor Nicholas Tolputt, 25
MasterClass
  • Barbara Frittoli, David Harper and the five IFAC ASC Finalists
  • Venue: The Independent Theatre, North Sydney, Monday 4 July 2016
National Adjudicator
  • Lyndon Terracini AM
Adjudicators Heats
  • London: David Harper, Kate Paterson, Linnhe Robertson
  • NSW: Anke Höppner, Ian McCahon; (QLD) Andrew Collis, Gregory Massingham
  • VIC: Antoinette Halloran, Richard Mills AM
  • WA: Alexandre Da Costa-Graveline, Burhan Güner, Patricia Price
  • NZ: Stuart Maunder AM, Robert Wiremu
Adjudicators Semi-Finals
  • Rowena Cowley, Lisa Gasteen AO, Emma Matthews, Benjamin Schwartz
Adjudicators Finals
  • Conal Coad, Michael Halliwell, Emma Matthews, Benjamin Schwartz
Semi-Finals Concert
  • The Independent Theatre, North Sydney, Sunday 3 July 2016
  • Accompanist David Harper
  • Compere Greg Lenthen
Semi-Finalists
  • Sarah Ampil, soprano, NSW
  • Morgan Balfour, soprano, NSW
  • Anastasia Bickel, mezzo-soprano, QLD
  • Eliza Boom, soprano, NZ
  • Fleuranne Brockway, soprano, WA (withdrew)
  • Jarvis Dams, baritone, NZ
  • Zoe Drummond, soprano, NSW
  • Frederick Jones, tenor, NZ
  • Nicholas Tolputt, counter tenor, NSW
  • Sarah Wang, soprano, NSW
Finals Concert
  • Concert Hall, The Concourse, Thursday 18 August 2016
  • Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Northey
  • Compere Damian Beaumont
Finalists
  • Morgan Balfour, soprano, NSW
  • Eliza Boom, soprano, NZ
  • Jarvis Dams, baritone, NZ
  • Nicholas Tolputt, counter tenor, NSW
  • Sarah Wang, soprano, NSW