THE RICHARD DIVALL PROGRAMME 2023-2024
The Richard Divall Programme for emerging and developing artists has selected its artists for the next twelve months. It was a very challenging process to choose from the large field of extremely talented candidates and many thanks to our hard-working audition panel of highly experienced practitioners and teachers. We welcome the following new artists: Rachael Joyce, Asher Reichman, Henry Shaw, Emily Szabo, Caitlin Weal and Amanda Windred. Olivia Federow-Yemm will return to the programme for a second year of support, along with Jordan Kahler.
OLIVIA FEDEROW-YEMM – Mezzo Soprano
Olivia has performed as a soloist and ensemble member with Melbourne Opera, Opera Australia, BK Opera, Victoria Chorale, Victorian Opera, and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Olivia grew up immersed in music and was in the Young Voices of Melbourne choir and musicianship training program for over fifteen years. This strong foundation of Kodály based learning contributed greatly to the musician she is today and inspired her to continue with her music studies at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and subsequently the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Her performed roles include Nerone in ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’, Third Lady in ‘Die Zauberflöte’, Zita in ‘Gianni Schicchi’, Proserpina in ‘L’Orfeo’, Suzanne in Offenbach’s ‘Un mari à la porte’, and Oberon in Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Her cover roles include Madame de Croissy in ‘Dialogues des Carmélites’, and Flosshilde in Melbourne Opera’s 2023 production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. In 2019, she debuted the role of Winter in Victorian Youth Opera’s ‘The Selfish Giant’. Notable ensemble performances include the 2021 Opera Australia production of ‘Aida’ and Victorian Opera’s 2023 production of ‘Idomeneo’. Olivia will start her second year in the Richard Divall Emerging Artists Programme as the recipient of the Melbourne Opera/Rotary International NGSE scholarship to Bayreuth, Germany.
RACHAEL JOYCE – Soprano
Rachael is an emerging young artist based in Melbourne, who graduated with First Class Honours in Classical Voice from Monash University, after completing a Bachelor of Arts/Music (Honours) majoring in French Language and Music Performance. 2023 marks Rachael’s third season with Opera Scholars Australia and she was a finalist in the OSA Aria Competition in 2022. This year, Rachael stepped in to perform the role of Rosita in BK Opera’s production of ‘Un Mari à la Porte’ on the day of the opening performance, and in 2022, she covered the role of La Regina dei Topi in Victorian Opera’s production of ‘Il Mago di Oz’. Rachael has received awards at the National Liederfest (2018, 2021), and in 2022 was a finalist and recipient of both the Frank Lasslett Memorial and Lynette Casey-Brereton Awards. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Australian Music Prize at Monash University, as well as winning ‘The Talent’ on 3MBS Fine Music Radio Station. Her most recent concert credits include the Dvořák ‘Stabat Mater’ with Monash University Choral Society; guest artist performances with the Yarra Philharmonic Orchestra, Australian Welsh Male and Excelsis Choirs. Rachael is a semi-finalist in the 2023 Australian Singing Competition and will participate in the Lisa Gasteen National Opera Program 2023.
ASHER REICHMAN – Tenor
Asher’s passion for music started at a noticeably early age. Having a violinist/conductor for a father, Asher trained in violin and jazz guitar. He is a graduate from the Melbourne Institute of Technology in health science. During his studies he received an opportunity to tour internationally with the Australian International Opera Company, performing Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’, covering the role of Monostatos, and ensemble in Puccini’s ‘Turandot’. Asher received a fellowship from Xl arts and debuted in contemporary opera roles in Jonathon Dove’s ‘Tobias and the Angel’ and ‘Mansfield Park’. He has sung as a soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and independent recitals of ‘The Juliet Letters’. Prior to the pandemic, Asher received a fellowship with Opernfest Prague and had already established himself as a professional artist as part of the Melbourne chorus of Opera Australia, taking part in recent productions of ‘Aida’, ‘Mefistofele’, ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Tannhauser’. Recent engagements include soloist for the Rachmaninov vespas, vassal in Melbourne Opera’s ‘Götterdämmerung’ and Jason in Cherubini’s ‘Medea’.
HENRY SHAW – Bass
Henry is a writer, director, and singer, who is a graduate of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and completed his Masters in Writing for Performance at NIDA. His writing work focuses on challenging and subverting expectations, such as his Offenbach Triptych for the Melbourne Fringe Festival in which he wrote and directed new adaptations of three works by Offenbach for a modern audience. As a performer, Henry has appeared in Melbourne’s opera and musical communities in roles such as Colline in a regional production of ‘La Boheme’ and an award-winning performance as Caiaphas in CLOC’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Other roles include Arthur in Peter Maxwell Davies’ ‘The Lighthouse’, La Podestat in ‘Le docteur Miracle’, Jitter ‘Musical of Musicals: The Musical’, Superintendent ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’, ensemble member of Victorian Opera’s ‘Idomeneo’ and was a vassal in Melbourne Opera’s ‘Götterdämmerung’.
EMILY SZABO – Soprano
Emily began studying classical voice at secondary school. Following the completion of Bachelor of Commerce / Bachelor of Science degrees at the University of Melbourne, she commenced a career in banking. During this time, she continued to pursue her passion for opera and recently embarked on a professional opera career. Her operatic roles to date include, Siegrune (cover) in Wagner’s ‘Die Walküre’ for Melbourne Opera (2023). For Millennium Opera she made her debut as Maria in Donizetti’s ‘Maria Stuarda’ (2015), sang Clotilde (2016 and Norma (2022) in Bellini’s ‘Norma’, and Susanna in Mozart’s ‘Le Nozze de Figaro’ (2018). In 2018 Emily won the Ringwood Aria and the Eisteddfod by the Bay Aria award. In 2022 Emily won the Diamond Valley Eisteddfod and was the recipient of the Richard Divall Prize in the Herald Sun Aria.
CAITLIN WEAL – Soprano
Caitlin has known from a young age that her passions lie with music and performing. She began her musical journey as a violinist, but after seeing Mozart’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’, Caitlin developed a passion for opera and successfully auditioned for the Queensland Conservatorium majoring in classical voice. She completed her Bachelor of Music and is now about to complete her Master of Music specialising in Opera at the same institution. During her time at the Queensland Conservatorium, Caitlin received many performance opportunities in concerts, opera choruses and lead operatic roles. These include Mimi ‘La Boheme’ (2021), Greta Fiorentino ‘Street Scene’ (2021) Susanna ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ (2022), Phyllis, ‘Iolanthe’ (2022) and Euridice in ‘Underworld!’ (2023).Caitlin was selected to participate in the Lisa Gasteen National Opera Program and was cast in the role of Kathi in ‘Der Vershworenen’. In 2022, Caitlin was selected as an emerging artist in the launch of the Voxalis company performing the works of ‘Sech’s Lieder’ (Richard Strauss) in their concert ‘Mahler and Strauss’ to critical acclaim and continues to work closely with the company. In 2023 Caitlin performed the soprano solo in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra Community Sings performance of Hayden’s ‘Nelson Mass’.
AMANDA WINDRED – Soprano
Amanda is a graduate of both Sydney and Queensland Conservatoriums, having completed an Advanced Diploma of Opera, Graduate Diploma of Opera and a Master of Music Studies (with academic excellence). During her studies Amanda has trained with some of Australia and America’s most notable teachers, directors and repetiteurs including Dr. Rowena Cowley, Professor Lisa Gasteen, Nic Muni, Alan Hicks, Anthony Manoli and Caren Levine. Amanda has had incredible opportunities on the stage and some of her recent highlights include: Vava in Victorian Opera’s ‘ Cheremushki’, Nella in ‘Gianni Schicchi’ for the Berlin Opera Academy, Mrs Grose in ‘Turn of the Screw’ for the Miami Music Festival, Turandot (Cover) in ‘Turandot’ for Opera Australia, Zweite Magd in ‘Elektra’ for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Marcellina in ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ for the Queensland Conservatorium, and Dritte Dame in ‘Die Zauberflöte’ for Pacific Opera.
JORDAN KAHLER – Soprano
Jordan is well known to Melbourne Opera audiences for her roles Waltraute in ‘Die Walküre’ in Melbourne and Bendigo and the Second Norn in ‘Götterdämmerung’ in the Bendigo Ring Cycle. Originally from Brisbane, Jordan moved to Melbourne shortly after completing her Bachelor of Musical Theatre at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Jordan was a finalist in the 2022 Herald Sun Aria Competition and was the recipient of the 2023 Richard-Wagner-Stipendienstiftung thanks to the generosity of the Richard Wagner Society Inc. of Victoria
The Richard Divall Programme has offered special development support to James Penn (tenor), Daniel Felton (baritone) and Lily Ward (coloratura soprano). We continue to support the development of Alexandra Byrne (repetiteur), Andrew Alesi(baritone) and James Park (tenor).
Our list of Associate Artists who have participated reflects the strength of our program and audition process. Past program members, now ‘Associates’ are: Eleanor Greenwood, Georgia Wilkinson, Louise Keast, Jane Magao, Darcy Carroll, Michael Dimovski, Shakira Dugan, Chloe Harris, Louis Hurley, Rebecca Rashleigh, Michael Lampard and Stephen Marsh. Joining that group are Naomi Flatman, Teresa Ingrilli, Esther Gresswell, Alastair Cooper-Golec, and Amelia Wawrzon.
Richard Divall Programme current and Associate Artists involved in the 2023 Bendigo Ring Cycle.
Some lovely words and updates from our newest Associate Artists
Naomi Flatman – During my two years of support I was very lucky to be entrusted with multiple roles, concerts and events. This has proved an incredible advantage for me whilst auditioning in Europe as I don’t need to buff up my repertoire to “catch up” with European singers on the audition circuit. Another most important factor was support for two years of weekly lessons with renowned mezzo soprano Roxane Hislop. She has been my greatest champion and guided me into the next phase of my career with great care and skill. One example of this: we began lessons as soon as we could meet in person in 2021 and 6 weeks later I was able to win the Herald Sun Aria and Liederfest. Through the vital financial support of RDEAP, key events like those, and performing in ‘Die Walküre’, ‘The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’, ‘Lucrezia Borgia’, ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘The Ring Cycle’ would not have been possible. Thank you so much to Greg, Suzanne, Raymond, and Robbie for having me part of the Melbourne Opera family and I’m so proud to now be an Associate Artist. Thank you to all the patrons of RDEAP and Melbourne Opera for listening to me sing and supporting my journey as a RDEAP member. Image above courtesy of Robin Halls: Naomi – centre – as a Rheinmaiden in the Bendigo Ring Cycle.
Amelia Wawrzon – I have just completed my Graduating Recital at the Royal Academy of Music in London and after a fantastic year of training and opportunities I will remain based in London to embark on an audition tour at opera houses and Young Artist Programmes in Europe. At the Academy, I performed in several concerts and was cast as Violetta in ‘La traviata’ and Adina in ‘L’elisir d’amore’ in the opera scenes performances, as well as performing in the ensemble for the Academy’s production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. I very recently proceeded to the Semi-Finals of the Australian Singing Competition as well, so I plan to be back in Australia to do that and visit my family in July/August. I’m so grateful that you and Melbourne Opera supported me so much along the way to get here and that you’re continuing the support. Image: Amelia & Naomi with Patron-In-Chief Lady Potter AC CMRI,Shanul Sharma, Greg Hocking AM & Head of Music Raymond Lawrence.
Teresa Ingrilli – Thank you Melbourne Opera for the opportunities given to me in the last two years. It’s been the community and financial support I needed to get me back on my feet after the Covid years to develop and grow as an artist post-university. I look forward to collaborating with the new and returning artists in the years to come. Please pass on my thanks to the patrons who support the Richard Divall programme also 🙂 There are NOT enough programs for older singers starting out so i cannot thank you enough!!!!! Teresa has recently been accepted into the Opera Australia Melbourne Chorus, played the lead in Victorian Opera’s production of ‘Cheremushki’ and is understudying Helena Dix as Maria Stuarda for Melbourne Opera before embarking some international travel.
Esther Gresswell – Thank you so much to you, Raymond and Greg and the entire Melbourne Opera team for giving me the opportunity to be involved in what is unparalleled program. My involvement in Melbourne Opera truly has been the vessel by which I have gained so much experience and can go overseas. Esther is relocating to Austria. She will be based in Linz and will be working with coaches from the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, Gärtnerplatz Staatstheater, Universität der Künste Berlin and Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg and Zürich in preparation for Opera Studios and Postgraduate positions
Alastair Cooper-Golec – My two years in the Richard Divall Emerging Artist Programme was pivotal to my development as an artist. I learnt an incredible amount through the opportunity to perform roles in fully staged productions with the experienced and talented artists in the Melbourne Opera company. I am deeply grateful for my time in the programme and hope to continue my relationship with Melbourne Opera for years to come. Alastair is currently on a contract with Victoria Opera as a co-recipient of the Victorian Opera Prize. Image courtesy of Robin Halls: Alastair in ‘Lucrezia Borgia’.
In 2022 were thrilled to present our own Richard Divall Programme production of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ featuring the complete cohort of current emerging artists and some guest artists at the Australian Club, as a promenade performance with a twenty-two-piece orchestra. This was enormously well received with a standing ovation and plans to repeat this event later in 2023 or early 2024. It reinforced our belief about how integral learning in a production setting is for the development of emerging singers. Extracts were presented as part of Mozart by Moonlight in the Royal Botanic Gardens in February 2023. We hope to present this again with many of the new programme members in 2024.
The Richard Divall Programme provides emerging and developing artists with practical and essential performance and industry experience along with tailored language study, drama and movement classes, masterclasses with leading international artists and provides financial support for singing lessons and coaching.
The Programme is so grateful for all the support it receives from principal supporters the Sylvia Fisher Fund and the Ian Potter Foundation, Friends of Melbourne Opera, the Mietta Foundation and Allan Myers AC and Maria Myers AC. Every cent donated contributes to Melbourne Opera providing this essential program.
If you are interested in finding out more, becoming a one-off donor or a major ongoing supporter of the programme please contact Melbourne Opera Company Manager – Robbie McPhee on (03) 9600 2488 or by email:email@example.com.