There were nine singers entered for this year's IFAC Handa New Zealand Singing School Aria Competition, sponsored for the first time by IFAC Handa, with six finalists selected in the preliminary round the previous evening.

This final was the climax of the singing section of the Napier Performing Arts Competitions Society 108th Annual Easter Festival.

Adjudicator Judy Bellingham from the University of Otago must have had a difficult task selecting the winner from the singing of the two arias performed by each competitor during the evening.

"The standard was uniformly even and high," Judy Bellingham commented.


"The best performances tell the story well, whatever the language being used, with the audience drawn into the story.

"Add to that fluency, musical accuracy and secure intonation to ensure winning performances."

Professor Bellingham praised the generosity of the sponsors and all who had contributed to the great evening's entertainment.

All the performances benefited from the superb support of the accompaniment by pianists Catherine Norton and Greg Neil, and the evening was enhanced by the genial compering of well-known Hawke's Bay bass-baritone Joseph Christensen.

Talented clarinetist Hayden Snell, with pianist Jan Beck, were guest artists who delighted the audience with their sparkling presentation of four items.

Prizes were presented by Dinah Kennedy of the NZ Singing School Trust.

Two nights previously, most of the aria competitors also competed in the Recital Scholarship, sponsored by the HB French Association. Soprano Eliza Boom won, with tenor Filipe Manu second and Kayla Collingwood third.

Napier Performing Arts Aria Competition Final
Adjudicator Professor Judy Bellingham
Century Theatre, Napier
Sunday, March 27
Reviewed by Peter Williams