Bass opera singer Benson Wilson won the $4000 first prize in the NCS Chameleon Aria Competition last night.

He was one of six singers in this year's final, held as part of the Napier Performing Arts Competition Society's 107th Easter Festival, in the Napier Municipal Theatre's Pan Pac Foyer.

Wilson won the competition with his rendition of Questo Amor Vergogna Mia from Edgar, by Puccini.

At stake were prizes of $4000, $2000 and $1000, as well as prizes of $200 from Clean Earth for each of the unplaced finalists and the Eileen von Dadelszen Prize of $250 for the highest-placed Hawke's Bay finalist.


Winners of previous aria contests have gone on to win national singing honours, leading to promising international careers.

That was the case in 2012, when several competitors gained places in the semifinal and final of the 2012 Lexus Song Quest.

It was won by a finalist from the Napier aria, Auckland tenor Amitai Pati, now a member of the trio Sol3 Mio.

The others in the group are his brother, Pene, and cousin Moses McKay who were also Napier aria competitors.

Two of last night's contestants, Elyse Hemara and Wilson, have Hawke's Bay connections.

Other competitors included sopranos Bernice Austin, Hannah Jones, Christina Orjis, Chelsea Dolman and Eliza Boom; tenors Lindsey Marshall and William McElwee; and bass Kalauni Pouvalu.

Adjudicator for the aria and all other singing classes was international opera soprano Gina Sanders from Auckland.

The Napier Performing Arts Competition Society's Easter Festival provides dance, singing, speech and drama and instrumental performances at the Municipal Theatre.