Congratulations to all the competitors in the Final Round 2024

It was an extraordinary evening of entertainment at the Due Drop Events Centre on Friday 9 February 2024.

The evening commenced with four finalists competing in the 18 & under category. Amelia Blessan was up first, with her heartfelt rendition of Adele’s iconic ballad ‘Hello’. Following her, the adorable six-year-old Mason Lin charmed the audience with his rendition of Bernstein’s ‘My House’ from Peter Pan. Saara Desai then gave a passionate interpretation of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’, and the category concluded with Venessa Joyce’s superb performance of ‘Vadrai, carino’ from Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni.

The Over 18 category commenced with soprano Emma Jones gracing the stage with her delightful rendition of Arditi’s ‘Il Bacio’. Ridge Ponini then gave a stirring performance of ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Puccini’s Tosca and this was followed by soprano Jessica Webber’s illuminating rendition of ‘Song to the Moon’ from Dvorak’s Rusalka. Next was soprano Jasmine Jessen’s mesmerising performance of ‘Me voila seule’ from Bizet’s Les pecheurs de perles. The evening’s enchantment continued with tenor Taylor Wallbank’s poignant performance of ‘E la solita storia de pastore; from Bizet’s L’Arlesiana’. Soprano Tayla Alexander then graced the stage with her rendition of ‘Chi il bel sogno di Doretta’ from Puccini’s La Rondine, bringing the first half to a close.

The second half unfolded with soprano Breony Bearman delivering a captivating rendition of ‘Einsam in trüben Tagen’ from Wagner’s Lohengrin. Next bariton Alred Fonoti-Fuimaono gave an awe-inspiring performance of ‘O Carlo ascolta’ from Verdi’s Don Carlo. The spellbinding atmosphere continued as soprano Rhiannon Cooper graced the stage with ‘Il est doux, il est bon’ from Massenet’s Herodiade. Next, soprano Olga Shanina delivered a stunning performance of ‘Violetta’s Aria’ from Verdi’s La Traviata and this was followed by baritone Thomas Roshol’s fantastic rendition of ‘Rivolgete a lui sguardo’ from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. The final performance of the evening came from soprano Sarah Mileham and an incredible performance of ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Puccin’s Gianni Schicchi. 

All singers were accompanied by the extraordinarily versatile Rosemary Barnes and the evening was hosted by MC Jack Bourke. Thanks also to our judges Patricia Wright, Uwe Grodd, and Fay McNeil. 


The Runner-Up is Alfred Fonoti-Fuimaono.

The Most Promising Award goes to Breony Bearman and Ridge Ponini.

The 18 & Under Winner is Venessa Joyce.

Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2024 Final Round - Friday 9 February

Thank you to everyone who entered the Digital Round for the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2024 and congratulations to all our finalists! The Final Round of the competition will take place on Friday 9 February at the Due Drop Events Centre, Manukau, with the 18 & Under finalists performing at 7.00pm followed by the Over 18s finalists at 7.30pm. The winners will be announced at the end of the evening. 

Judges for the competition this year are Uwe Grodd and Patricia Wright and the official accompanist is Rosemary Barnes. 

Join us on Friday 9 February and hear some of Aotearoa’s most promising vocal talent. Attendance at the event is free and there is no need to purchase a ticket – simply turn up and enjoy the evening! Drinks and light refreshments will be provided after the event. 

18 & Under Finalists

 Mason Lin, Saara Desai, Amelia Blessan, Venessa Joyce, Sofia Gong

Over 18 Finalists

Taylor Wallbank, Rhiannon Cooper, Alfred Fuimaono, Tayla Alexander, Thomas Røshol, Jasmine Jessen, Emma Jones, Breony Bearman, Sarah Mileham, Jess Webber, Ridge Ponini, Samuel McKeever, Olga Shanina

Australia success for NTAC 2023 winner Emmanuel Fonoti Fuimaono

Huge congratulations to Emmanuel Fonoti Fuimaono, winner of the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023, who on 31st August 2023 won the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. An outstanding achievement  that culminated in a performance with the Opera Australia Orchestra that was broadcast on 2MBS Fine Music Sydney.

Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2024 opening 25th September 2023

We are excited to announce the opening date for the Digital Round of the 2024 competition, Monday 25th September 2023. This competition will also include a new 18 and Under prize category of $1000. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

MSO Family Concert – Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023 Winners Performance

NTAC 2023 Winners Katherine Winitana and Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono

21st May 2023 – Winners of the Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023 Katherine Winitana, Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono and Runner-Up Maeve Herd were stars of the MSO Family Concert, held at the Due Drop Events Centre, Manukau.

Performing to a full house, along with piano soloist Shan Liu and saxophonist Tomomi Johnston, the winners performed one piece each with orchestra and a winner’s duet, conducted by Wellington-based Brent Stewart. These performances were recorded as part of the Aria Competition prize.

Performance by Winner Katherine Winitana – ‘Chi Bel Sogno Di Doretta’ from Puccini’s La Rondine

Performance by Winner Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono – ‘Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz’ from Lehar’s Das Land Des Lachelns

Perfomance by Runner-up Maeve Herd – ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt

Duet by Katherine Winitana and Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono – ‘O Soave Faniciulla’ from Puccini’s La Boheme

Highlights from the MSO Family Concert

Inaugural Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023 “… and the WINNER is!”

Over two exciting nights, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st February 2023, thirteen exceptional finalists competed for a prize pool of $9,000 for the Inaugural Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023 on the stage of the BNZ Theatre at the Due Drop Events Centre, Manukau.

The First Prize of $5,000 was shared by Katherine Winitana, soprano and Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono, tenor. Katherine, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngaariki Kaiputahi, born in Flaxmere, Hawke’s Bay, wooed the judges and the audience with a moving rendition of Puccini’s ‘Chi’il bel sogno di Doretta’ from La Rondine. Emmanuel gave a captivating performance of Massenet’s ‘Pourquoi me reveiller’. Maeve Herd placed as the secure second spot winning $3,000  with an inspiring “Eccomi in lieta vesta… Oh quante volte!” aria by Bellini.

Alexandra Francis, soprano and tenor Shiddharth Chand  were joint winners of the $1,000 ‘Most Promising Singer Award’.  Alexandra transported us into Handel’s plot of Julius Ceasar when Cleopatra contemplating her demise sings “I shall lament my fate so cruel and so wicked, as long as I breathe”. Shiddharth displayed fine virtuosity and poked good fun at ‘Ah! Mes Amis’ by Donizetti from La Fille du Regiment.

The Finalists’ Concert was a huge success. Competing singers were selected from over 50 diverse entries. Rosemary Barnes, the competition’s official accompanist, provided exemplary support for every nuance of each singer and style throughout the evening. Nicholas Reid, MC for the night,  gave succinct and informative introductions to each aria.
The BNZ Theatre, with its excellent accoustics, first-class Steinway Concert Grand and comfortable seating, proved an inviting venue for this new event which is surely here to stay for years to come.


23rd February 2023

2023 Programme

Download the 2023 NTAC Programme

Inaugural Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023, MSO Finalists Announced

The Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2023 organised by the Manukau Symphony Orchestra is proud to announce the Finalists!

Come along to hear the Final Round Recital, 7.30pm Tuesday 21st February, Due Drop Events Centre, Manukau to compete for the Cash prize of $ 5,000.

FREE tickets through Eventfinda

Our finalists are:

Aidan Phillips –Baritone

Alexandra Francis – Soprano

Shiddharth Chand – Tenor

Alfred Fonoti Fuimaono – Baritone

Erica Paterson – Soprano

Fa’amanu Fonoti-Fuimaono – Baritone

Jasmine Jessen – Soprano

Jessica Webber – Soprano

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono – Tenor

Maeve Herd – Soprano

Katherine Winitana – Soprano

Rhiannon Cooper – Soprano

Ridge Ponini – Tenor

Tayla Iris Alexander – Soprano

We thank all those who took the time and had the courage to send a recording for our contest. As it was our first year, we wanted to encourage all ages and styles to participate in this competition – to see who is singing in our community and to shape the future of this highly anticipated competition.

There were over 50 talented and differing entrants, from Intermediate age to those in their 50s, with a range of styles – lieder, singer-songwriter, musicals, as well as operatic aria. It certainly made a challenge for our judges, and highlighted for the competition a need to create more categories to give more singers a chance to reach the stage at the Due Drop Events Centre.

We look forward to supporting our finalists, and hope to see you on 21st February.

We thank the Nicholas Tarling Charitable Trust for their ongoing and generous support.


9th February 2023

Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition 2024 Final Round - Friday 9 February

NTAC 2023 Judges Announced

Nicholas Reid – MC

Rosemary Barnes – Accompanist and Consultant

Rosemary Barnes studied in London with Franz Reizenstein (Royal Academy of Music) and Lamar Crowson. Her interest in languages led to 28 years in London, working mainly with singers.  She was on the music staff of the English National Opera from 1980-88, and taught singers and pianists at the Royal College of Music. She also undertook extensive free-lance opera work with Glyndebourne Touring Opera, BBCTV, Musica nel Chiostro in Italy, Opera Factory and Opera Northern Ireland, and performed in concert at the Wigmore Hall, Usher Hall, South Bank and BBC Radio 3.  She was assistant conductor on more than a dozen recordings for Opera Rara (bel canto specialists). 

In New Zealand, Rosemary led the Postgraduate Opera Diploma at the University of Auckland from 1993-99. She currently coaches Emerging Artists for Opera NZ, and has been official accompanist at the Gisborne International Music Competition since 1994.  Performances include concerts with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lesley Garrett, Sir Donald McIntyre, Emil Chudnovsky (violin), Robert Aitken and Leone Buyse (flute), and with the Trio Australasia (Alisa Willis flute and Ann Blackburn oboe) on cruise ships and in Germany.  Recordings include three CDs for the Continuum label. In September 2015 she will perform Chopin’s F minor Concerto with the Ensemble Polymnia in Auckland.

Rosemary was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to music in the 2000 Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Uwe Grodd – Adjudicator

Uwe Grodd has been the Music Director of the Manukau Symphony Orchestra since its beginning in 1993. Grodd’s contributions to classical music have brought him considerable international acclaim and he has served as adjudicator for many competitions in New Zealand and in Europe.

In 1997 he joined Naxos Records as an Exclusive Artist and to date, he has made world premiere recordings of more than 100 works. Grodd initially gained worldwide attention when awarded First Prize at the Cannes Classical Awards 2000 for Best 18th Century Orchestral Recording with Hungary’s Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia. Two Editor’s Choice awards, UK followed and the coveted International Record Review Outstanding award for recordings featuring the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, the Gaevle Symphony, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Performance highlights include eight concerts with the Mexico City Philharmonic and sell-out seasons of Handel’s rediscovered opera Imeneo in the Halle Opera house, when he was awarded the Badge of Honour for his services to the Handel Festival and the City of Halle, Handel’s birthplace.  Grodd is equally committed to the music of his own time, commissioning more than 50 works from New Zealand composers. He conducted the premiere season of the multi-media opera Galileo and was Artistic Director of Len Lye the opera, with music by Eve de Castro-Robinson. In 2021 he conducted the premiere season of the opera Ihitai ‘Avei‘a Star Navigator  by Tim Finn with the Manukau Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Choral and the Graduate Choir for New Zealand Opera for a sell-out season. The production was staged again at the end of last year with Grodd conducting Orchestra Wellington, Orpheus and Signature choirs and members of the NZ Opera chorus.

Uwe Grodd is Artistic Director of Auckland Choral. He is Professor Emeritus of the University of Auckland and is Post Graduate Supervisor in Music at the Canterbury University.


Patricia Wright – Adjudicator

Patricia Wright has performed regularly in opera, orchestral concerts, festivals, recitals and CD recordings. She is one of New Zealand’s best known and versatile sopranos.

She studied under New Zealand’s iconic Dame Sister Mary Leo and Australia’s famous Dame Joan Hammond and now is a revered tutor in her own right.

Patricia gained recognition singing at the major venues in London and throughout the UK. She recorded for the BBC in both live performances and recording studios. She was placed second in the prestigious Benson and Hedges Gold Award for singers and represented NZ in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition.  Returning to NZ in 1993, she continued to sing major opera roles, guest artist concert appearances with leading orchestras, oratorio and recital concerts both at home and internationally.

After teaching singing at the University of Auckland for eight years, Patricia continues to impart her passion, performing skills and experience to students and now spends a large part of her career as a vocal coach/tutor and continues to be a national singing competition adjudicator whilst still performing.

Her most recent performance was the role of Mrs Grose in NZ Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw.

Rosemary Barnes - Accompanist & Consultant
Patricia Wright – Adjudicator
Uwe Grodd – Adjudicator