Heritage House was filled with anticipation yesterday before a lunchtime recital featuring the four Dame Malvina Major Foundation scholars of the New Zealand Opera.
Three of the four are students and have returned to the New Zealand Opera School in Whanganui until January 22.
The scholars (previously called emerging artists) have been described by opera school director Jonathan Alver as opera "apprentices".
After selection these students spend a year with the New Zealand Opera, experiencing the rigours of opera production and performance, Mr Alver said.
Opera School executive chairman Donald Trott said the annual lunch time recital was only possible due to generous sponsorship from Wanganui Opera Week (WOW), which had organised the lunch and recital since the school began 23 years ago.
"And it is always a very special occasion. We are most fortunate to have their loyal support."
To a packed house of 260 people, the students - Katherine McIndoe, Edward Laurenson, Eliza Boom and Frederick Jones, accompanied by Sydney coach Sharolyn Kimmorley - sang arias from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, Tchaikovsky's, Eugene Onegin and Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.
The duet Sil fuggire, from Bellini's opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi, sung by sopranos Macindoe and Boom, was sublime and brought many tears to many eyes. These two are destined for fine careers.
Baritone Laurenson's control and textured lyrical voice were evident especially in his rendition of Billy's aria from Britten's Billy Budd.
Laurenson is without a doubt headed for the world's opera houses.
Tenor Jones has a tender warm voice filled with musicality. His is a quiet presence with a fine strength.
And utterly superb once again was accompanist Kimmorley. She's out on her own completely .
McIndoe and Jones are at Victoria University studying voice and performance, and Boom is at Waikato University also studying voice and performance.
Laurenson has just completed two years' training at Guildhall in London, where he graduated with distinction. He is one of two postgraduate students attending the school to talk to this year's students about working and training overseas.