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Ridge Ponini

Voice Type


Home Town

Rarotonga / Cook Islands

How did you become interested in opera singing?

I was given the rare opportunity to have a go at it when I had my very first voice lesson with Professor Judy Bellingham, who encouraged me to pursue this career. I loved and enjoyed singing, but not singing of this sort, and Opera is such a unique form of art. Through out my years of studies I grew to love Opera and watching the success and influences of Pasifika Opera singers made me more interested to pursue this even more.

Performance highlights so far?

A few performance highlights include:

Opera in Rarotonga concert in 2019 and in 2023 as one of the tenor soloist.

Singing as the tenor soloist with the Sunshine Symphony orchestra in Hamilton

Semi-finalist in the Lexus song quest 2022.


Rhiannon Cooper.JPG

Photo © Charles Brooks

What are you looking forward to about being part of TANZOS?

The opportunity to work consistently with some of the most knowledgeable artistic minds in the country because I believe that consistent supervised technical work is crucial at this stage of my career. And the chance to work with the international visitors, I’d also benefit from being fully immersed in an opera-focused environment.

What are your career hopes following TANZOS?

I’d like to get my foot in the door overseas and expose my gift to as many listeners as possible
Suitable teacher
Make connections that will guide me on to the world’s most prolific stages

Ridge is supported by Dame Jenny Gibbs


Proud Cook Island tenor, Ridge Ponini completed his Honours degree in Music at the University of Otago, majoring in classical voice performance under the tutelage of Judy Bellingham. 

In 2016 Ridge sang several roles in John Drummond’s new opera War Hero presented by Opera Otago. In 2017 Ridge was named the Most Promising Singer and received the Judges Choice Award in the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria award, and in the same competition placed second in 2018. In 2018, he was awarded the prize for the singer with the most potential in the McCormick Opera Award and fulfilled his long-held dream to return to Rarotonga as a guest artist for Opera in Rarotonga. In 2021 Ridge was awarded the Enari Iosefa Opera Award from Creative New Zealand. Ridge was also a semi finalist for the Lexus Prestigious song quest for 2022 and was a studio artist with New Zealand Opera in 2023. 

Ridge has been selected to attend the New Zealand Opera school for four consecutive years and was also part of New Zealand Operas schools tour cast that performed Sleeping Beauty for over 10,000 tamariki in 2023, and is performing the role of Nemorino in the schools' tour in 2024 in L'elisir d'amore.

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