How did you become interested in opera singing?
I grew up in a musical family and spent a lot of time around folk music and festivals etc. Began taking lessons around 15 with Joan Kennaway and folk turned into music theatre and music theatre turned into opera.
Performance highlights so far?
Taking part in the NZOS in 2022 and 2023, singing alongside Simon O’Neill and Anna Leese in the Dunedin Town Hall, taking part in the Marlborough Opera Festival, taking part in the chorus of Macbeth.
Photo © Charles Brooks
What are you looking forward to about being part of TANZOS?
Making the dream of singing and role preparation and everything involved be a day to day norm for me. I’ve spent the last few years mostly focussed on singing but always having to work in an office or cleaning to survive financially and I think being able to put myself mentally, emotionally and physically into this programme 100% is going to be the best thing for me and my development.
What are your career hopes following TANZOS?
Ultimately I hope to have an understanding of how to take my next step into the industry and have contacts to be able to discuss this with and opportunities lined up. Ideally in Europe but I’m also interested in America.
Rhiannon is supported by Dame Jenny Gibbs
Born and raised in Whangārei, soprano Rhiannon Cooper began her vocal journey with the late Joan Kennaway who fostered in her a love of classical singing. While in Whangārei, she was a regular performer with Opera North as both a soloist and ensemble member before moving to Dunedin in 2016 to begin vocal studies at the University of Otago. In 2020 she completed a Bachelor of Music endorsed in Classical Performance with First Class Honours.
Rhiannon has appeared onstage as Fiordiligi in scenes from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Peep-Bo in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and was scheduled to sing Rosalinde in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. An avid ensemble singer, Rhiannon also frequently performs with the Octagon Ensemble as a soloist and as an ensemble member and was a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir (2017-2019), touring internationally with them.
Rhiannon is a two-time nominee for the PACANZ National Young Performer of the Year Award, recipient of the Colin McDonald Memorial Prize (2017), the Victor Galway Medal and Ida G White Memorial Prize (2020), and the RSA Choir Scholarship (2018-2021).
She was one of twenty-one singers selected to attend the prestigious New Zealand Opera School in both 2021 and 2022 where she was awarded the Merle Higgie Memorial Award (2021), the Spirit of the School Award (2022), and the Dame Malvina Major Award (2022). Rhiannon was also invited to audition for the Circle100 tour scholarship which she has since been awarded.
Most recently, Rhiannon competed in the Christchurch Competition Society’s Annual Senior Vocal Competitions, gaining first place in the Canterbury Opera Foundation Aria and is a Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera for their 2023 Artist Development Programme.