2014 NATIONAL ADJUDICATOR
Brisbane-born baritone Jeffrey Black began his career in 1984 when, at the age of twenty-one, he joined The Australian Opera as a principal artist singing roles which included Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, Schaunard in La bohème, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Dr Falke in Die Fledermaus, Dandini in La Cenerentola and Ottone in Goran Jarvefelt’s new production of L’lncoronazione di Poppea.
In 1985 he was named The Australian Opera’s Esso Young Artist of the Year. Subsequent roles as a guest artist with The Australian Opera (Opera Australia since 1997) include Figaro in II barbiere di Siviglia, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, the title role in Don Giovanni, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Eugene Onegin and Wolfram in Tannhäuser. He has also sung Dr Malatesta in Don Pasquale for the Lyric Opera of Queensland, and Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Roderigo in Don Carlo and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance for the Victoria State Opera.
Jeffrey Black made his European debut in 1986 as Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos in Monte Carlo and his British debut the same year at the Glyndebourne Festival as Sid in Albert Herring, where he has subsequently returned for Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1989) and the Count - in both Capriccio (1990) and Le nozze di Figaro (1991).
At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he has appeared as Harlekin, Sid, Figaro (II barbiere), Dandini, the Count de Nevers in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots and the Count (Figaro).
Jeffrey made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, with Figaro (II barbiere) in 1995 and returned in 1997 to sing the Count (Figaro).
His other international engagements include Guglielmo at the Salzburg Festival - a role he has also sung in Los Angeles, Chicago and the Aix-en-Provence Festival; Netherlands Opera (Harlekin); the Bastille, Paris (Lescaut in Manon Lescaut and Valentin in Faust); Geneva Opera (Dr Falke and Fieramosca in Benvenuto Cellini; Valentin and Riccardo in I Puritani); San Francisco Opera (Figaro in Il Barbiere); the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires (Dandini); Los Angeles Opera (Marcello in La bohème); San Diego Opera (Figaro in II barbiere and the title role in Eugene Onegin); New Israeli Opera (Figaro in II barbiere and Demetrius); the Washington Opera (Count in Figaro and Marcello); Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp (the title role in Don Giovanni); and Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich (the Count, Figaro in II barbiere and Marcello).
On the concert platform in Australia, Jeffrey Black has taken part in a major tour with the ABC, and appeared in recital with Geoffrey Parsons and also with the ABC orchestras. In London he has sung with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in excerpts from Die Fledermaus, in Carmina Burana (which was also recorded by EMI) and his first Christus in Bach’s St Matthew Passion under Franz Welser-Möst.
Other engagements include Posa in new productions of Don Carlo for Opera North and Opera Australia; the Count in Capriccio and Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles with Opera Australia; Danilo in The Merry Widow at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre; arena concerts with Kiri Te Kanawa in London, Stockholm, Sydney and Melbourne; arena performances of Pere Germont in La traviata in Auckland, New Zealand, which was again performed under Simone Young in Tokyo with the NHK Orchestra; Eugene Onegin and his role debut as Baistrode in Peter Grimes for Michigan Opera; further performances of the Count for Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and a recording of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Sydney Soloists for ABC Classics.
Other recent engagements include Don Giovanni, Belcore in L’Elisir d’amore and the Count in Le nozze di Figaro. He also performed Ford in Falstaff at the Oporto Festival in Portugal, was baritone soloist in Fauré’s Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony, and performed in recital with Simone Young for the NSW Art Gallery ‘Portraits’ series.
Jeffrey also performed Danilo in a new production of The Merry Widow for Opera Australia in both Sydney and Melbourne, and Escamillo in Carmen for Opera Queensland. Concert performances in 2004 included New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House; concert and recording (BIS) of Symphonies 5 & 9 by Alexander Lokshin as part of the Styriate Festival, Graz, Austria; Opera in the Vineyards; Lisa Gasteen in Concert (Guest Artist); Liederabend at St John’s Cathedral and Die Winterreise Oxford with 4MBS Brisbane (recording and recital). This recital was bracketed with Nigel Kennedy as “one of the outstanding performances of 2004" in Australia.
As part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar he played the title role in the world premiere of Nelson performed on the Strand at Australia House. Most recently he sang Danilo in Welsh National Opera’s new production of The Merry Widow with Lesley Garrett – subsequently telecast on BBC2 (30th December, 2005).
2006 saw a recommitment to the concert platform with a series of concerts and recitals in London, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia with his accompanist, Tahu Matheson. Much of the great works of “the sons of Vienna” were performed during this time: Schubert’s Schwanengesang, Die Winterreise, Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Liederkreis ( Op.24 & 39), Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
In 2007 likewise Jeffrey continued to delve into the art song repertoire including Brahms, Duparc, Fauré, Webern and Berg with concerts in Rome and the inaugural Summer Festival at Chateau Padies; performances of Verdi arias in concert for the 4MBS Festival in Brisbane as well as a live broadcast for the BBC.
He made his role debut as Rigoletto under the baton of Alistair Dawes revivifying their professional relationship begun when both were at the ROH.
Other engagements included a Beethoven 9th Symphony in Australia as well as his debut as Scarpia in Tosca also undertaken in Australia as part of the 4MBS Festival. In the summer of 2008 Jeffrey again performed at the Chateau Padies Festival, France.
Summer 2009 included a return to Glyndebourne undertaking the role of Falstaff for the first time, his debut in the title role of Simone in a Gala concert performance for Chelsea Opera Group of Simone Boccanegra (1857 version) at Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank. Also that summer Jeffrey made his role debut as Frank in Die Fledermaus for London Lyric Opera at Cadogan Hall.
In summer 2010, Jeffrey performed the baritone role of Gianciotto in Zandonai’s opera Francesca da Rimini for Opera Holland Park.
Forthcoming engagements include his role debut as Pizzaro in Fidelio for New London Opera Players followed by Scarpia in Tosca in early 2012 as well as his role debut as Telramund in Lohengrin in 2014.
For the last ten years Jeffrey has had a thriving teaching practice in his private studio in southwest London. Additionally for the last six years he has been a part time lecturer in voice and performance studies as part of the Music Faculty at Kingston University, London.
2014 FINALS ADJUDICATOR
New Zealander Conal Coad trained in the NSW Conservatorium of Music Opera School before joining Opera Australia. He made his European debut with the Opera de Wallonie and has sung with all the major companies of Belgium; in Brussels (La Monnaie), Liege, Antwerp, Charleroi, Ghent and Bruges, in the principal bass roles. In France he has sung in Paris, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Strasbourg, St Etienne, Le Mans. Elsewhere in Europe he has performed regularly in Naples, Venice, Bologna, Hamburg, Geneva, Lisbon, and Madrid.
He has performed in the UK at Covent Garden, Holland Park Festival Opera, Garsington Festival, Opera North and in Scotland.
In the USA he has performed in Washington and New York. Conal has also performed in Israel. Conal performs regularly in New Zealand with the national company in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as National tours.
Conal returns each year for Opera Australia, and has performed many roles including in Fidelio, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (for which he won a Green Room Award), Lulu, Manon (also winning a Green Room Award), La Cenerentola, Billy Budd, The Rake's Progress, Albert Herring, Don Carlos, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L’Elisir d’Amore, Arabella, Capriccio, Don Giovanni (for which he was nominated for a Helpman Award), The Coronation of Poppea, Queen of Spades, The Rape of Lucretia, Aida, Voss, The Marriage of Figaro, The Emperor of Atlantis, Manon Lescaut, L'elisir d'amore, Fidelio, Roméo et Juliette, Arabella, The Pilgrim's Progress, Lucia di Lammermoor, etc. Conal has also performed often for WA Opera, Opera Queensland, SA Opera and many roles for the University of NSW Opera.
Conal regularly adjudicates major singing competitions and teaches in many international opera schools as well as sponsoring and supporting aspiring singers.
He has adjudicated many times for the Australian Singing Competition.
Concert engagements include work with all major Australian orchestras, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Opera House, a solo Concert at La Monnaie Brussels, SSO, NZSO, ACO, as well as festivals in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Israel, UK, Australia and NZ. Conal supports many charities and has been a guest artist in major events including at Kensington Palace, in Australia, Tokyo, Belgium (Brussels and Malines) and in NZ.
In the current season Conal performed in The Turk in Italy for Opera Australia in Sydney and The Magic Flute, Opera on the Beach, Gold Coast and The Elixir of Love in Melbourne. He returns to Opera Australia for their 2015 Sydney and Melbourne seasons. Future roles also include Billy Budd in The Netherlands and concerts in Japan.
Recordings/DVDs include: Mozart Bass Arias, NZ at Covent Garden, Mozart Opera Arias, My Beloved Father, Ruaumoko, Orakau (Morrison Trust), Don Giovanni (Leporello) Opera Australia, Don Pasquale, (Don Pasquale) Opera Australia, ABC Classic 100 Mozart and Sweet Serenade.
2014 FINALS ADJUDICATOR
Michael Halliwell studied music and literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and at the London Opera Centre with Otakar Kraus, as well as with Tito Gobbi in Florence. He has sung in Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia and was principal baritone for many years with the Netherlands Opera, the Nürnberg Municipal Opera, and the Hamburg State Opera. He has sung over fifty major operatic roles, including Don Giovanni, Papageno, Count Almaviva, Gugliemo, Posa, Germont, Gianni Schicci, Ford and Escamillo, and has participated in several world premieres and had frequent appearances at major European festivals in opera, oratorio and song recitals.
He has published widely in the field of music and literature and is Vice President and Editorial Board Member of The International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA), regularly giving lectures and seminars on the operatic adaptation of literature into opera. His book, Opera and the Novel, was published by Rodopi Press (Amsterdam/New York) in 2005. He is working on a book on the contemporary opera libretto. Currently on the staff at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he has served as Chair of Vocal Studies and Opera, Pro-Dean and Head of School, and Associate Dean (Research). A double CD of settings of Kipling ballads and Boer War songs, When the Empire Calls, was released by ABC Classics in September 2005. He has recently premiered Lawrence Kramer’s song cycles, Five Songs and an Epilogue from The Wings of the Dove, Nine Songs to Ezra Pound, and Crossing the Water.
2014 FINALS ADJUDICATOR
Emma Matthews is a highly acclaimed and awarded coloratura soprano, who regularly performs with all the state opera companies and the major Australian symphony orchestras, as well as at the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Huntington Festivals.
Emma’s many roles include the title roles in Lulu, Lakmé, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Cunning Little Vixen and Partenope, Violetta (La Traviata), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Marie (La Fille du Regiment), Gilda (Rigoletto), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Amina (La Sonnambula), Pamina (The Magic Flute), Almirena (Rinaldo), Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Zwaantie (Batavia) and Philomele (The Love of the Nightingale) both by Richard Mills, Olympia, Giulietta, Antonia and Stella (The Tales of Hoffmann), and Cunégonde (Candide).
Further career highlights include her Covent Garden debut in the title role of The Cunning Little Vixen under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo conducted by Yakov Kreizberg, and Ismene (Mitridate) for the Sydney Festival.
Emma’s 2014 engagements include the roles of Fiorilla in Il turco in Italia and Gilda in Rigoletto for Opera Australia, a concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a recital at the Government House in Sydney and appearances at the Huntington Festival and Sydney Philharmonia’s Christmas concerts.
Emma can be heard on numerous recordings including her solo albums Emma Matthews in Monte Carlo with Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo and Yakov Kreizberg (Deutsche Grammophon/ABC Classics, released in 2009) and Mozart arias with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Marko Letonja conducting (ABC Classics, released in February 2014).
2014 FINALS ADJUDICATOR
Benjamin Schwartz was appointed Director of Artistic Planning with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra beginning in early 2014, concurrently with the start of David Robertson’s tenure as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the orchestra. Previously, Ben served as Assistant Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2014, where he contributed to all the major aspects of the orchestra’s artistic planning, including chamber music and symphonic programming for both Boston and Tanglewood seasons, in addition to coordination of all commissioning and cultural initiatives. Since 2011 Ben has also collaborated with Seiji Ozawa as Artistic Administrator of the Saito-Kinen Festival Matsumoto.
Outside of his administrative activity, Ben performs as a cellist with a particular passion for contemporary music, appearing regularly as member of the Callithumpian Consort, for which he has also served as executive director.
As a performer, Ben has worked with an eclectic group of significant living composers, including John Luther Adams, Chaya Czernowin, Michael Finnissy, John Harbison, Lee Hyla, Helmut Lachenmann, Alvin Lucier, Tristan Murail, Frederic Rzewski, Steve Reich, Christian Wolff, and John Zorn, but also takes great joy in close collaboration with emerging composers.
Ben played cello on the legendary Boston rock band Mission of Burma’s 2006 Matador Records release The Obliterati, which was recognized as Album of the Year in the 2006 Boston Music Awards, and he is also featured in a wide range of highly-acclaimed recordings released on the Naxos, New World, Mode, Tzadik and Urtext labels.
Ben received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in French with a minor in music, then moved to Vienna, Austria, to pursue studies in cello. He subsequently received his diploma with distinction in cello performance from the Vienna Conservatory, then a MM in cello performance with academic honours from the New England Conservatory of Music. Ben’s principal cello instructors have included David Soyer, Paul Katz, Adalbert Skocic and Karen Buranskas.
'The Mathy' has become synonymous with The Marianne Mathy Scholarship, the featured award within the IFAC Australian Singing Competition.
Hand cast in solid bronze, 'The Mathy' stands 195mm tall (230mm including its base) and weighs in at just under 1kg.
'The Mathy' limited edition Drago Marin Cherina bronze statuette was first awarded to Western Australian soprano Rachelle Durkin in 2000.