It was hard to believe the four singers lined up in a New Zealand Opera School master class at the Wanganui Collegiate Auditorium on Monday evening were still just students.

Even international tutor Della Jones was thrilled with their voices and without hesitation told them several times they were excellent.

Soprano Alexandra Gandionco ) from West Auckland had the audience spellbound.

This young soprano sang an aria from The Pearl Fishers by Bizet.


As Leila, a priestess of Brahma, her delivery and powerful soprano voice was phenomenal. She impressed Jones who could only critique a few phrases of interpretation.

When Gandionco arrived on stage and announced what she would be singing, Jones told the audience immediately that yes there was "more to The Pearl Fishers than the famous duet for tenor and baritone".

Gandionco had much of the audience sighing with pleasure as she soared through the range of top notes.

There were many gasps and comments about how she made it seem effortless. Hardly surprising one was left thinking that this young woman was born to sing. Bravo Alexandra.

Samoan baritone Samson Setu who sang an aria from Cosi fan Tutte by Mozart delighted the audience with not only his rich voice but his infectious personality.

His face aptly expressed the richness of the character, who was a womaniser and arrogance personified.

One difficult passage that Jones had him repeat several times to get the breathing right, nearly had Setu toppling on to the piano with giggles.

The four students in the master class, which also included tenor Manase Latu and mezzo soprano Cecily Shaw, received thunderous applause.

Accompanist (repetiteur) David Kelly was also hugely applauded as one of New Zealand's foremost musicians.


Jones said they didn't come better than Kelly.

"He is truly exceptional believe me. He is a huge asset and a wonderful man to work with.''