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TANZOS is based at the state-of-the-art Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato Hamilton Campus


Te Pae Kōkako – The Aotearoa New Zealand Opera Studio (TANZOS) is an intensive, dedicated programme for aspiring singers that combines academic, professional and in-situ industry training, encompassing the long-held vision and dream of Dame Malvina Major.

TANZOS is an extended programme with a maximum of six places, each supported by a significant grant to enable the specialised nature of the programme: travel, international coaches, residencies - and is based in the world-class facilities within the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on our Hamilton Campus.


TANZOS helps talented opera singers prepare in New Zealand for the international stage by providing high-level, comprehensive training and also by helping to form international connections with opera companies and young artist programmes.

Key Aspects of the TANZOS programme:

  • Fully-funded extension programme 

  • Bringing international experience to the students here in Aotearoa

  • Offsite company residencies with working opera companies and orchestras

  • Regular masterclasses, including public masterclasses with visiting international tutors

  • Regular performances

  • Professional and pastoral support

  • Auditions for external national/international companies and artist managers

  • Coaching from some of the world's most recognised opera specialists

The TANZOS course focuses on these areas:

  • Vocal technique and performance practice with one primary teacher

  • Vocal and stylistic coaching with guest and faculty vocal coaches

  • Repertoire knowledge: Preparing vocally-suitable roles in their entirety

  • Musicianship – sight-singing, keyboard skills, score-reading, IPA

  • Recital programming – lieder and art song

  • Oratorio preparation and historically informed performance practice

  • Audition technique

  • Stagecraft - learning established methods and building confidence, especially factoring performances of scenes from the students' core roles  

  • Language coaching, particularly German, Italian and French

  • Experience working with an orchestra and within a company 

  • Resilience programme: performance psychology, practical and pastoral support, career advice

Assessment includes:
  • Staged opera scenes, whether during a company residency or public performance on-site

  • Solo recitals of lieder/art song and opera

  • Three suitable roles prepared throughout the year and assessed in their entirety

  • Performance of a contemporary work, including one module in collaboration with the Waikato University Conservatorium of Music Composition Department

  • Viva voce and researched written element.


Te Pae Kōkako

Our name was gifted by Professor Tom Roa in his capacity as Te Mata Ahurangi of the University of Waikato. A local oral history of the Ngāti Apakura iwi avows that their tupuna, Pikirangi, had a pet kōkako, which he trained to sing a particular song that was full of meaning for his iwi.


The 'pae' is the kōkako's perch, where it gathers in strength before taking flight. Like the kōkako, our students come from all parts of Aotearoa New Zealand. Establishing TANZOS will mean that talented opera singers can be encouraged to thrive locally, in New Zealand, for the international stage, following the example set in the efforts of the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society that has helped regenerate the kōkako.


Dame Malvina Major

Beloved Kiwi soprano, Dame Malvina Major was born in Hamilton. After winning the Mobil Song Quest in 1963 and the Melbourne Sun Aria in 1964, Dame Malvina went to London and embarked on an international career as well as a rich home life in New Zealand.

Known for her down-to earth character and incredible generosity, Dame Malvina established the Dame Malvina Major Foundation in 1991 in recognition of what she had been given as a young singer to allow her to follow her dream of becoming an opera star. Today her vision to “Share the Dream” continues to underpin everything the Foundation does to support young New Zealanders across the whole spectrum of the performing arts.

TANZOS has been developed and designed in consultation with practitioners in Aotearoa and globally by our Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera, Madeleine Pierard.

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