A 2018 Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera, soprano Natasha Wilson now has her feet firmly on Californian soil as she commences her studies under César Ulloa at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. We asked her a few questions before she headed off…
How did you get into opera?
My dad brought home a CD of Phantom of the Opera when I was 12 and I was taken by the classical technique that was needed to sing Christine. From there, I sang in choirs at high school, where my classical technique developed under the tutelage of Morag Atchison. I then went on to complete a Bachelor of Music (Honours, first class), at the University of Auckland. It was definitely my time at university where my passion for opera developed, and where I was given amazing opportunities to perform.
How has the Dame Malvina Major Foundation helped you on your path to becoming an opera singer?
I have received so much support and opportunity from the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, particularly in the past year. Their support through the regional competitions, as well as giving me the opportunity to be a part of their Opera Studies Programme, which enabled me to take part in Patricia Hurley’s Italian for NZ Opera Singers Masterclasses in Italy, have been building blocks towards getting me ready to head overseas.
What does it mean to be an Emerging Artist? How has it helped your career development?
Being a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist this year has been such a privilege. It has been one of the most challenging roles I have ever done, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities I have been given. To have performed three principal roles and understudied two in New Zealand Opera’s 2018 productions has been a huge learning curve and I have gained so much knowledge and experience.
What challenges do young opera singers face in New Zealand?
Given the smaller market for opera, it’s sometimes difficult to get the experience to develop the way you need or want to as a young singer. This means you typically need to go overseas to get this experience. It’s a challenge, but it’s also so important, and exciting.
What have been your career highlights to date?
Being a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist has definitely been a highlight. I also enjoyed performing with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra throughout 2017, performing as the soprano soloist in both their touring concert series.
What are you dreams for the next 10 years?
I’m hoping to get into some of the highly acclaimed young artist programmes in the United States, the United Kingdom or Europe. The dream would be to gain roles through these programmes and eventually become a principal for some of the acclaimed opera houses around the world. My ultimate dream is to become the best artist I can possibly be.
This article was originally published in our Summer 2018/19 edition of Rhapsody. Download the pdf.