A packed audience at the Collegiate School auditorium held its collective breath many times as Professor Cesar Ulloa, head of voice at the San Francisco Conservatoire, worked intensively in a public workshop with four Opera School students.

Soprano Alexandra Gandionco, 22, had the audience in thrall with her powerful, utterly beautiful voice.

Although Professor Ulloa adjusted her singing positions a few times even he felt compelled to say, "Well, for one so young your voice is incredible''.

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The professor was like a magician in that he made decisions within seconds after each student's arrival onstage.

It seemed he had an innate sense of how their posture should be and
whether the minute they opened their mouths their tongue or hard palate was in the right position.

As the professor made adjustments and the students sang again the differences were remarkable.

The tough part is for these students is to lock the memory of the right positions so when they sing the right physical positions will automatically lock into place.

"This is how operatic singing must be,'' Professor Ulloa said.

As he explained the finer techniques he also demonstrated through miming.

His students on Friday night were comfortable as the manner of this master is kind, sensitive and very sympathetic.

As NZ Opera School chairman and founder Donald Trott said Professor Ulloa was kindness itself. "He is a warm and caring man and his students can count themselves very lucky indeed.''