Lexus Song Quest 2022: Tongan tenor wins Grand Final

By RNZ.co.nz

After a glittering Grand Final featuring five wonderful NZ operas singers and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, one has been named the winner with a surprise appearance by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

2022 Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, Saturday 23 July 2022.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa congratulates Filipe Manu, winner of the Lexus Song Quest 2022 Photo: Hagen Hopkins

The winner of the 2022 Lexus Song Quest is tenor Filipe Manu, a New Zealand-raised Tongan currently based in Bern, Switzerland, where he is a member of the newly founded soloists ensemble of Stadttheater Bern.

First prize is $20,000 and a Study Scholarship of $27,000, plus economy international travel up to the value of $3000.

2022 Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, Saturday 23 July 2022.

Filipe Manu, winner of the Lexus Song Quest 2022 Photo: Hagen Hopkins

In second place is soprano Felicity Tomkins, who is currently studying towards her Artist Diploma in Opera Vocal Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of tenor Stuart Skelton. The prize is $10,000 and a Study Scholarship of $10,000 from the Dame Malvina Major Foundation.

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono, a 24-year-old tenor from Hawke’s Bay, won the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation $15,000 scholarship for the singer with exceptional potential. Emmanuel is currently a Dame Malvina Major Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera. He was first introduced to music through learning hymns at church and singing songs with family. Since the age of 16, Emmanuel has been an active member of Hawke’s Bay Youth Initiative ‘Project Prima Volta’ – a music programme that helps empower young people through the art of classical music.

2022 Lexus Song Quest Grand Final Gala, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, Saturday 23 July 2022.

Lexus Song Quest 2022, Front L-R Amelia Berry, Filipe Manu, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Hubbard, Felicity Tomkins, Rear Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono & Teddy Tahu Rhodes Photo: Hagen Hopkins

Hotly-contested and judged live on the night, the quest sees five opera hopefuls take the stage in the biggest event of their performing lives, singing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. There is up to $95,000 in prizes and a career-changing title up for grabs in the Lexus Song Quest 2022 Grand Final.

The finalists were Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaonoa, Amelia Berry, Filipe Manu, Sarah Hubbard, and Felicity Tomkins.

RNZ Concert presenter Clarissa Dunn hosted the awards, which was held at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

Each finalist performed a song accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis, and two arias accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd.

The programme:

FIRST HALF – Songs/Lieder

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono

MOORE: The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Amelia Berry

SIBELIUS: Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte

Filipe Manu

STRAUSS: Morgen

Sarah Hubbard

DELIBES: Les filles de Cadix

Felicity Tomkins

RACHMANINOV: Dreams

Interval: Clarissa Dunn talks to 2022 Lexus Song Quest judge Teddy Tahu Rhodes about his career since he won the 1991 Song Quest.

SECOND HALF – Arias

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono

VERDI: De’ miei bollenti spiriti (La Traviata)

Amelia Berry

MOZART: Ach, ich liebte (The Abduction from the Seraglio)

Filipe Manu

DONIZETTI: Spirto gentil (La favorita)

Sarah Hubbard

MOZART: Durch Zärtlichkeit (The Abduction from the Seraglio)

Felicity Tomkins

NICOLAI: Nun eilt herbei (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono

GOUNOD: Ah! lève-toi, soleil! (Romeo et Juliette)

Amelia Berry

DELIBES: Où va la jeune Hindoue? (Bell Song, Lakme)

Filipe Manu

GOUNOD: Ah! lève-toi, soleil! (Romeo et Juliette)

Sarah Hubbard

FLOYD: The Trees on the Mountain (Susannah)

Felicity Tomkins

MASSENET: Il est doux, il est bon (Hérodiade)

ORCHESTRAL INTERLUDE

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd

SMETANA: Vltava (The Moldau)

WINNER ANNOUNCED

Recorded 23 July 2022, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.

Presenter: Clarissa Dunn, Producer: David McCaw, Engineer: Darryl Stack

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