The success continues for New Zealand-Tongan tenor Filipe Manu, who has been announced as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award.
Earlier this year Manu – who went to Howick Primary School – won the Lexus Song Quest in New Zealand.
Established by the estate of the fondly remembered New Zealand mezzo-soprano Dame Heather Begg, this award provides $25,000 for tuition and travel to refine and mature operatic talent.
It is offered each year to a young singer or singers from Australia or New Zealand. Manu is the second New Zealander to receive this award.
The first was lyric soprano Amina Edris who recently created the role of Cleopatra in John Adams’ new opera Antony and Cleopatra with San Francisco Opera to critical acclaim.
The award has also supported some of Australia’s finest early-career opera singers including Samuel Dundas, Janet Todd, Jeremy Kleeman, Emily Edmonds, Lauren Fagan, Nicholas Jones and Fleuranne Brockway.
Manu is a graduate of the world-renowned Jette Parker Artists Programme.
He has been the recipient of the New Zealand National Young Performer Award (Vocal) and the winner of the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition.
Moffatt Oxenbould AM, one of the Trustees of Dame Heather Begg’s Estate, is pleased the award can provide support to Manu at a critical time in his career. “We are proud that the
Dame Heather Begg Award has been of particular benefit to young artists who have already taken significant steps in their professional careers.
“Filipe is a very fine artist of already considerable achievement and immense potential who deserves every assistance to ensure that he is impeccably prepared for the major roles he is undertaking for the first time.”
Manu joined the ensemble of the Konzert Theater Bern for the 2021/2022 season where his repertoire has included Arbace (Idomeneo), Tebaldo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) and Tamino (The Magic Flute).
Future engagements include Tamino at the Royal Opera House and debuts at Hamburg State Opera and Paris Opera.
“I’m so thankful for this award,” says Manu.
“As a singer, moving into the freelance stage of your career can be an exciting, if not a daunting prospect. I have a number of important contracts coming up where I’ll be going into a room with seasoned professionals, some of whom will be on their 10th-plus production.
“This award has given me the financial backing to make sure I’m as prepared as I possibly can be to do justice to the roles I’ve won.’
Dame Heather Begg’s own long and distinguished international operatic career inspired her to make provision in her will for this award. Dame Heather died in Sydney in 2009, aged 76, after a notable operatic career on four continents.
Following her death, the trustees of her estate established the Dame Heather Begg Memorial Award in association with Melba Opera Trust.