Heritage House was buzzing with anticipation yesterday before a lunchtime concert featuring four stars-in-waiting from the New Zealand Opera Company.

The quartet are all students at the New Zealand Opera School being held in Whanganui from January 4 to 17.

The Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists have been described by opera school director Jonathan Alver as effectively opera "apprentices".

After selection, the students spend a year with New Zealand Opera Company experiencing the rigours of opera production and performance, Mr Alver said.

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Opera school executive chairman Donald Trott said the annual event was only possible due to generous sponsorship from Wanganui Opera Week (WOW), which has organised the luncheon and recital since the school began 22 years ago.

"It is a very special occasion.

"We are most fortunate to have their loyal support."

To a packed house of more than 200 people, the four students Madison Nonona, Katherine McIndoe, Jarvis Dams and Filipe Manu, accompanied by Sydney coach Sharolyn Kimmorley, sang arias from Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, and from the Donizetti opera The Elixir of Love - the aria Una Furtiva Lagrima (A Furtive Tear).

Jarvis Dams, a baritone from Belgium, has lived in Hamilton for 16 years. He has a Master of Voice Performance from Waikato University and has won several regional awards.

Tenor Filipe Manu moved to New Zealand from Tonga as a young boy and now lives in Hamilton. He has a Bachelor of Music from Waikato University.

Soprano Madison Nonona will make her opera debut with New Zealand Opera Company this May. Wellington soprano Katherine McIndoe has completed her Bachelor of Music with Honours at Victoria.