Opera star takes on busy Man­hat­tan

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Just like the song says, ev­ery­thing changed for Amelia Berry in a New York minute – well, 10 min­utes, to be pre­cise.

The bud­ding Ti­tahi Bay opera star is mov­ing to New York in Septem­ber af­ter land­ing a cov­eted place on the Man­hat­tan School of Mu­sic’s mas­ters pro­gramme.

Berry, 22, flew to New York in March for a 10-minute au­di­tion at the school, and had a tense month-long wait be­fore hear­ing she had been ac­cepted.

The two-year de­gree will fast­track Miss Berry on the path to be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional singer.

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic school. I’ve heard great things about it from peo­ple in the busi­ness,’’ she says.

It’s not just the rep­u­ta­tion of the school, but also the chance to live in a buzzing me­trop­o­lis that spurred her to ap­ply.

‘‘I just re­ally want to ex­plore New York.’’

While she was au­di­tion­ing in March, Berry man­aged to catch a cou­ple of shows at the Metropoli­tan Opera, which sealed her love for the city.

‘‘ It was just to­tally mind­blow­ing,’’ she says.

The only ob­sta­cle to tak­ing up her place is money – fees are US$33,000 (NZ$40,000) a year, and liv­ing costs will be $22,000 a year.

Berry so im­pressed the Man­hat­tan au­di­tion panel that she was awarded a US$10,000 Pres­i­dent’s Award schol­ar­ship, but she is hop­ing to make up the re­main­ing $ 100,000 through fur­ther schol­ar­ships and do­na­tions through her web­site.

‘‘ Ev­ery­thing helps, pretty much.’’

Berry’s mu­si­cal ca­reer started at Tawa Col­lege, where she sang in the school’s 200-strong choir.

An in­ter­est in clas­si­cal mu­sic soon de­vel­oped, and she dis­cov­ered her voice was par­tic­u­larly suited to it.

‘‘I think I’d prob­a­bly make a ter­ri­ble pop singer.’’

She went on to com­plete a first-class hon­ours de­gree in mu­sic per­for­mance at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity.

Learn­ing new lan­guages is part of what at­tracts Berry to opera – she has sung in Ital­ian, Ger­man, French, Rus­sian, Czech, and al­ways picks up a bit of the lan­guage along the way.

Her dream role would be play­ing Vi­o­letta in Verdi’s La Travi­ata.

‘‘A lot of opera heroines are these down­trod­den vic­tims. She’s got some­thing real to her.’’

This ‘‘real’’ qual­ity in peo­ple is some­thing Berry says she will miss about New Zealand when she’s liv­ing in Amer­ica.

‘‘[New Zealand] is laid back and re­ally chilled out. At least I’ll take that with me, teach them a few things.’’

Dream­ing of Man­hat­tan: $100,000 stands be­tween opera singer Amelia Berry and her dream of study­ing in New York.

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