Next year the Whanganui-based New Zealand Opera School will celebrate its 25th year.
Over that time, the school has sent numerous talented young singers on to the world's opera stages.
Among those who have gone on to great things are Pene and Amitai Pati and Moses McKay who form the hit trio Sol3 Mio; Wagnerian tenor Simon O'Neill; and award-winning soprano Isabella Moore.

In 2019, the school will run from January 7 to 20 at Wanganui Collegiate School with 21 young singers from throughout New Zealand picked from the many hopefuls who auditioned in Auckland last month.

School founder and chairman Donald Trott said once again the calibre of the applicants had been superb.
"There were some wonderful applicants with vocal abilities showing great promise."
Marking this 25th year is an opera event titled Opera and aroha on the river.
With the blessing from the guardians of the Whanganui River, it promises to be a memorable night of music.
The two classic Whanganui river steamers - the Waimarie and the Wairua - will become the stage with a large pontoon floating between them and a floating pathway to the steamer terminal.

This feast of music starts at 7.30pm with Maori singers coming up the river from Putiki Marae in waka accompanied by the haunting sound of the conch shell.
Starring will be Samoan tenors Pene and Amitai Pati leading the new opera students from the school.
Former alumni from opera houses around the world will also be featured in a special video on a large screen.
Audience seating will be on the grass area that slopes down to the river just off Taupo Quay.
There will also be a VIP area with tables and chairs. Entry is $35 with special concessions for seniors and children.


Two years ago a black fog had descended on to Whanganui's opera music world when Dame Kiri, who says she adores helping young opera students on to the world stages, pulled the plug on the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation funding to the much loved school here.
The funding was directed instead into her own smaller school for fledgling opera singers at Auckland University.
However, undeterred and resolute that the school should not suffer, Donald Trott headed into action.
Fully armed with his funding brief he saved the school by securing the Freemasons Foundation.
The foundation has replaced the funding and more.
They pay for the international opera coaches to tutor at the school, covering the coaches' fees, flights and accommodation during the two weeks of the school, plus other expenses.

Already this year's school in Whanganui, with its 21 students and international teachers Della Jones returning from Wales and new international Professor Russell Smythe from the Royal College of Music in London, is gathering extraordinary momentum.

On Wednesday, January 9, is the luncheon concert at Heritage House in St Hill St, featuring the Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists and a lunch served in the foyer.

On Sunday, January 13 is again In Praise of Music in the Collegiate Chapel at 11.30am.
The student singers will perform aria, duets and chorus excerpts from Handel's oratorio, Judas Maccabeus.
Also on that Sunday afternoon a fundraising concert in the historic St Mary's Church in Upokongaro is planned.

There is a public masterclass with Della Jones on Monday, January 14 at 7.30pm in the collegiate auditorium.

And on Saturday night, January 19 at the Royal Whanganui Opera House starting at 7.30pm will be the concert of Great Opera Moments.
This final concert has always been a sell-out and last year's (2018) performance left audience in raptures with standing ovations and thunderous applause.

Once again music lovers from all over New Zealand will be travelling and staying in the river city to celebrate the glorious New Zealand Opera School.
"It is a wonderful time. Tiring, incredible and immensely worthwhile," Donald says.