For Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono, classical music runs in the family - despite none of them planning to be singers.

After spending a year at Waikato University studying classical performance as part of a BMus, he has come back to play the devious Goro in Festival Opera's Madame Butterfly - rehearsing for hours on end in a Napier shed.

The 19-year-old has also been a part of local Youth Initiative Project Prima Volta, noting that it has been a "life-changing experience since joining on the year PPV was first established in 2013".

"I've honestly fallen in love with opera and I have just always loved music. I was planning on studying music before but it wasn't meant to be opera, I wasn't meant to be a singer.


"PPV and Festival Opera made me change genres and it is honestly the best choice I've made."

Out of his four brothers and one sister, three of them - Jordan, 16, Faamanu, 18, and Alfred, 20, are all either studying or planning to study classical music.

"None of us ever planned on being singers, that's the funny thing, but I guess it runs in the family."

Born and raised in Hastings, Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono is a tenor who has big dreams for the stages around the world - "travel, sing and hopefully make a great career out of it".

But most importantly, he wants to be a role model for those younger than him wanting to pursue a career in opera.

On Saturday, Growing Opera Stars will give people the opportunity to experience a snapshot of opera, and give some of the region's aspiring young opera stars an inspirational experience.

Four international opera stars, here for Festival Opera's Madame Butterfly, which is running in February as part of the Art Deco Festival, will be performing alongside 10 Hawke's Bay secondary school pupils, including Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono in an eclectic selection of duets, trio and solo acts.

Darren Pene Pati, from Sol3 Mio, American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree, and Welsh opera singers Rebecca Afonwy Jones and Gary Griffiths, will take the stage at MTG for the hour-long Growing Opera Stars production.

Anna Pierard, co-founder of Project Prima Volta and Festival Opera, said "sometimes people underestimate the importance of encouraging young people to follow their passion when that passion is performing and singing".

"In reality they learn really key skills like collaborating, reading, taking healthy risks and most importantly they learn confidence in themselves so they can manage themselves in any situation which are all really wonderful attributes to whatever they end up doing."

She believes Emmanuel "will end up being an opera singer, I have no doubt of that".