Staude as Susanna and and fellow student Devon Lake as Count Almaviva in WAAPA’s production of The Marriage of Figaro

Inspire: Albany opera singer Bonnie Staude in semi-finals of IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition

Melissa SheilAlbany Advertiser
Sat, 22 June 2024 4:00AM

An Albany soprano has made it through the first stages of one of the most prestigious and richly rewarded youth singing competitions in Australia.

Bonnie Staude, 22, will take to the stage for the semi-finals of the International Foundation of Arts and Culture Handa Australian Singing Competition in August, competing against nine other opera talents from around the country.

Staude, who is enrolled in her final year of a Bachelor of Music: Classical Vocal Performance at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, first got a taste of the classical style as a child growing up in the Great Southern.

If awarded the main prize, Staude would use the winnings to further her education. Credit: Jian Peters

”My family has always been very musical, but my love of classical music was fostered through my Nonna,” she said.

“She always loved classical music, played piano and encouraged me to sing her favourite classical songs.

“The sad truth is that sort of music isn’t super accessible, popular or promoted very much to a young audience — without her, I don’t think I would’ve found my passion.”

Her career path was solidified in 2018 when, as a Year 10 student at Albany Senior High School, she won the Opera Australia Regional Student Scholarship. As a winner, Staude was one of four regional students to get a trip to Sydney for coaching and mentorship.

Since then, she has starred in productions with Albany Port Theatre, FreezeFrame Opera, Breaksea and WAAPA, playing the lead role of Susanna in the 2023 WAAPA production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Practice with Mozart’s 1786 opera has served Staude well, the show’s star aria Giunse alfin il momento… Deh vieni non tardar an serving as a key part of her semi-final portfolio for the exclusive competition.

Set for August 15 to 18, the semi-finals involve two songs performed for a private adjudication, and two for a public audience at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney, with competitors having to perform songs that showcase their singing fluency in three or more languages.

The top five chosen for the finals will then perform at the Chatswood Concourse in September.

Once there the top five would be in the running for the main prize, which includes the $30,000 Marianne Mathy Scholarship, audition opportunities for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center, an oil painting of themselves, a taped interview to be submitted to the National Library of Australia, a print folio and a statuette.

The four runner-up awards include international study scholarships, cash prizes, and private coaching lessons in Italy and England.

Staude said her “dream” is to complete further study before joining an international company and eventually nabbing her dream role as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod.

Staude has performed arias, art songs and lieders over her short career.  
Credit: Stephen Heath Photography

“Opera careers tend to move quite slowly when you’re young, so I really want to have the opportunity to do further training,” she said.

“I’m quite interested in pursuing a Masters degree in opera performance or doing artist development programs overseas.

“It’s kind of like the world is your oyster, which is why competitions like this are amazing because they foster young talent and offer opportunities that helps you develop as young singers.

“I’ll keep following my instincts and taking things a step at a time, as it takes a long time developing your voice and I’m really passionate about staying in this for a while.”

Operated by the Music and Opera Singers Trust, the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition is open to those under the age of 26 and has propelled the careers of Australia’s future opera stars since 1982.

Past winners and finalists include Lisa Gasteen, Roxane Hislop, Daniel Sumegi, Stuart Skelton, Amelia Farrugia, Rachelle Durkin, Jessica Pratt, David Hansen, Emma Pearson, Nicole Car, Kang Wang, Filipe Manu, Eliza Boom, and Manase Latu.

Bonnie Staude as Hope Cladwell and Hunter Ewen as Bobby Strong. Credit: Tanya Staude

Visit the article on the West Australian site HERE.