Opera North Logotype
Opera North - Where are they now

Where are they now

On this page we are proud to record the achievements of past and present members of Opera North who continue to develop and share their artistic abilities.

Eliza Boom





Eliza grew up on the stage, singing with her parents and five siblings at churches across New Zealand, but it was Opera North’s Joan Kennaway that got her started in classical singing and opera. After a few years learning with Joan, Eliza decided to make singing her career and went on to complete a BMus (Contemporary Christian Music) at Vision College, focusing on classical singing while also developing versatility in musical theatre and contemporary music. She then did her Honour’s year and a Post-graduate Certificate in Opera Studies at the University of Waikato studying under Dame Malvina Major.

While there, she performed the roles of the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Leatitia in The Old Maid and the Thief for the university.





Passionate about passing on knowledge and experience, during her years of tertiary study Eliza developed a teaching studio, teaching singing, piano and music theory to students of a variety of ages at home, at schools and at Vision College.
Eliza has been involved in many prestigious training programmes, including the New Zealand Opera School (2013, 2015, 2016 & 2017), Lisa Gasteen National Opera School (2016) and was selected as a member of the inaugural Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Singer Development Programme (2016 – 2017) and gratefully acknowledges the support of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. These programmes have given her the opportunity to work with world-class teachers and performers, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathryn Harries, César Ulloa, Barbara Frittoli, Simon O'Neill, Lisa Gasteen, Richard Hetherington, and many more.

Eliza has been successful in many competitions and awards across New Zealand and Australia, winning the Dame Sister Mary Leo Award, Becroft Aria, Christchurch Aria, Dunedin Aria, Hamilton Premier Award and was placed third in the 2016 New Zealand Aria. She was also one of five finalists in the 2016 IFAC Australian Singing Competition.

2017 saw Eliza as a Dame Malvina Major Scholar with New Zealand Opera, performing in their productions of The Mikado (ensemble, Pitti-sing cover), Don Pasquale (Norina, schools tour production) and Carmen (chorus, Micaëla cover). In June she won the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Christchurch Aria competition.

After winning a scholarship through the IFAC Australian Singing Competition, in late 2017 Eliza began her Masters at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, studying under acclaimed soprano Mary Plazas. 

In February 2018, Eliza won the respected Frederic Cox Award which supports further post-graduate study at the RNCM and she accepted a place in the International Artist Diploma programme there. Then on 29 July as a semi-finalist, she performed with the NZSO in the prestigious 2018 Lexus Song Quest and was named runner-up (Joel Amosa being the winner). Two weeks later Eliza won the Les Azuriales International Singing Competition in Nice. In October 2018 Eliza sang the role of Mimi in Act 4 of La Boheme with the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra and later played Nella In Gianni Schicchi and covered the title role in Suor Angelica for RNCM.

In March 2019 Eliza sang in Brahm's German Requiem with the University of Bristol. In May 2019 she competed in the International Stanislaw Moniusko Vocal Compeitition and then went on to sing in Mahler's 4th Symphony with the Suffolk Philharmonic orchestra and on 1st June had her final recital with the RNCM. Also in June, Eliza was named as one of the Drake Calleja Trust Scholars for 2019-2020. In July Eliza sang the role of Donna Anna for Clonter Opera's production of Don Giovanni. In September, Eliza came second in the Joan Sutherland Richard Bonynge Bell Canto Award & Foundation and was awarded the Richard Bonynge Award.  She has also received the Mozart & Handel Prize and the Georg Solti Accademia Prize and studied with the National Opera Studio in London. 

Eliza was named as the Guest Artist for Opera in the Garden 2020, which unfortunately had to be postponed in March 2020 and again in August 2020 due to Covid 19. As Covid 19 kept her in NZ, she joined forces with Sophie Sparrow and Kawiti Waetford to create Reo Takura Winterless Opera, to promote the development of younger singers and expansion of Te Reo Maori into Opera by providing masterclasses and live classical music around Northland.  In July, Eliza won the Classical, Opera & Musical Theatre Categories in the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. In August she won a $10,000 2020 Circle 100 Scholarship and joined Sophie Sparrow for her Gala Concerts in Whangarei. In September 2020, Eliza left NZ to join the  Bayerische Staatsoper Opera Studio in Munich for a two year period.

Maia Mila Amosa (Vegar)

Maia Mila Amosa (Vegar)

Maia completed 4 years at Otago University, studying classical performance voice under both Judy Bellingham and Frances Wilson.

In 2011, Maia won the Otago Daily Times Aria Competition, the Christchurch vocal competitions scholarship class and the Dunedin vocal scholarship class.

On June 30th 2012, Maia performed the role of the Countess in Opera Otago's production of The Marriage of Figaro and was mentioned in Elizabeth Bouman's review in the Otago Daily Times as the "charming Countess, Maia Vegar, who absolutely conquered the difficult aria - Dove sono".

In July 2013 Maia won the Dame Malvina Major Aria Competition in Christchurch, and in September she came second in the Wellington Aria Competition, also sponsored by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation. In November 2013 Maia was privileged to sing with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra as a finalist in the NZ Aria Competiton held in Rotorua.

In 2014 Maia was one of 22 NZ singers who attended the 2014 Wanganui Opera School in January, and in the process was honoured to work with world-renowned tenor and vocal teacher Dennis O'Neill. At the end of the school Maia was invited by Dennis O'Neill himself to complete her Masters in Advanced Vocal Studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff and has been offered a place for 2015/2016.

Unfortunately, her ability to take up her place was heavily dependent upon obtaining sponsorship. In October Maia performed the role of Lucia’s maid Alisa in the Auckland Opera Studio's production of Lucia di Lammermoor. William Dart’s review of this production noted "Minutes into the first act, major musical virtues were apparent in the lusty singing of Kalauni Pouvalu's Normanno and the men's chorus, as well as in Maia Vegar's tenderly attentive Alisa".

Maia married Joel Amosa in November 2017 and is currently working as a long-haul flight attendant for Qantas. 

In October 2018 after an absence of 4 years from competing or taking singing lessons, Maia was thrilled to reach the finals of the NZ Aria Competition. Maia and her husband Joel were Guest Artists for the 2019 Opera in the Garden.

In May 2020, Maia and Joel welcomed the birth of their first child, a little girl.

Kawiti Waetford

Kawiti Waetford

Kawiti has completed his Bachelor of Music degree at Otago University specialising in Performance Voice under Isabel Cunningham and Professor Terence Dennis. He was the recipient of the prestigious Ngarimu VC & Maori Battalion Scholarship in 2010 and then his attainments and potential were recognised by the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.

In July 2011 Kawiti attended the Solti Te Kanawa Summer Course in Tuscany. This annual prestigious course accepts 12 up-and-coming young singers from around the world. Also in 2011, Kawiti sang in Christchurch with Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica Von Stade and Simon O'Neill, and again with Kiri Te Kanawa and Teddy Tahu Rhodes at Auckland's Vectra Arena.

On 30th June 2012, Kawiti performed the role of Figaro in Opera Otago's production of The Marriage of Figaro. Part of the Elizabeth Bouman's review in the Otago Daily Times read "Baritone Kawati Waetford was perfectly cast as Figaro. Already with performing experience alongside Dame Kiri and others on the top rung, his magnificent voice, good looks and "attitude" created compelling on-stage rapport. A highlight was the scene with his Non pui andrei".

Kawiti was one of the six finalists in the prestigious Lexus Song Quest 2012 and was subsequently awarded the inaugural $15,000 Lexus Song Quest Masterclass Scholarship funded by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. The scholarship is based on technique, musicality, presentation and the overall potential of the singer to have an international career.

Kawiti was cast in the role of Guglielmo in the Auckland Opera Studio's production of "Cosi fan Tutte" on 11th November 2012 Mercury Theatre Auckland. He also performed at a dinner in honour of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall the following day.
In March 2013 Kawiti was Guest Artist for Opera in the Garden and in October 2013 he went to further his studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice where he worked with acclaimed Welsh tenor and teacher of bel canto, Dennis O’Neill and completed his Master of Arts in Advanced Vocal Studies.

In August 2014 he was awarded one of the Narimu VC & Maori Battalion Master Awards.

Kawiti subsequently played the role of Archangel Michael in Apocalypsis , Laminate Festival, Toronto and performance with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ANZAC Centenary, Gallipoli.

Kawiti married Jesse Negus in January 2016 and returned to New Zealand in 2017 where he is now based. In March 2017 he was Guest Artist once more for the 21st Opera in the Garden.

He is planning to spend time in New Zealand mentoring young people and performing at concerts around the country.

On 30th June 2019, Kawiti & Jesse welcomed their first child, a little girl. 

In June 2020 Kawiti teamed up with Eliza Boom and Sophie Sparrow to create Reo Takura Winterless Opera with the aim of promoting the development of younger singers and expansion of Te Reo Maori into Opera via masterclasses and live classical music in venues around Northland.


Emma Couper

Emma Couper

Emma was one of Joan Kennaway’s earliest pupils and began having singing lessons at age 11. Growing up, she had much success competing in both Northland and Auckland competitions, often winning her age division.

During her years at Epsom Girls’ Grammar, a love and talent for drama saw her take lead roles in several combined Auckland Grammar Musical Productions.

At 16 Emma wrote a play entitled “The Exam” which went on to be published as part of an educational drama resource where it is still used in secondary schools today.

Following a break from singing, Emma returned to Northland in 2007 and resumed her lessons with Joan, developing her repertoire as a coloratura soprano. Emma’s broad vocal range has allowed her to sing music which demonstrates a remarkable degree of ‘vocal gymnastics’. She competed in the Northland Performing Arts Vocal Competitions, twice winning the Open Senior Championship. In 2009 she competed in the NZ Aria Competition where she and partner Luke Bird took third place in the Open Duet.

Recent musical theatre roles include Maria Elena in “The Buddy Holly Story”. The Gumby Cat in “Cats” and Adele in Die Fledermaus. In 2016, Emma was the very warmly appreciated guest artist for Opera in the Garden.

Emma is now teaching young students of her own from her home in Waipu where she lives on a farm with her husband and her two sons. In July 2017, she played  the role of Tanya in the very successful Centre Events Ltd's  production of “Mamma Mia” in Whangarei.

Shaan Kloet (Antunovich)

Shaan Kloet (Antunovich)

Since graduating from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art with a Bachelor of Preforming Arts and has completed her ATCL in Performance in Classical Voice and Musical Theatre. Shaan has had an exciting professional career in performing throughout New Zealand.

Shaan’s career highlights have included singing with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, opening for Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Aladdin, Mulan) in her sell out New Zealand tour, opening the Nelson winter festival with New Zealand performer Tim Beveridge, soloist at Christmas in the Park bot5h Christchurch and Auckland, and playing Grizabella in Cats. - “Shaan sang the famous song (Memory) within an inch of her life. I have never heard it sung better except by of course Ms Paige. It was a stunning vocal performance” – Kurt Ganzal.

She toured with the sell out “Pirates of Penzance” directed by Raymond Hawthorne. Other cast members included George Henare, Geraldine Brophy, Helen Medlin and Tim Beveridge. “It was an incredible experience learning from some of New Zealand’s best performers.

2014 saw Shaan achieve her dream of being the guest artist in Opera North’s Opera in the Garden which was an honour. In his review, Paul Serotsky said, "Shaan Antunovich, Opera in the Garden guest artist, was spellbindingly clear-toned and dramatically aware".

Shaan has launched an album called Unexpected Song, which has been successfully sold throughout New Zealand. In 2016 Shaan was cast to play Mary in the Musical Mary Poppins which was produced by Hamilton’s Operatic Society.

Shaan contracts for One Entertainment and through the company performs throughout New Zealand for the New Zealand’s leading company’s at their conferences and events. “It’s an awesome way to see New Zealand and an awesome way to meet some very inspiring New Zealanders”.

In 2017 Shaan completed an 8 month contract working as the head entertainer at Rainbows End, New Zealand’s leading and internationally award winning theme park.  In November 2017 Shaan married Jeremy Kloet following which she starred as Mary Poppins in the musical “Mary Poppins”” for Hamilton Operatic Society.

In August 2018 Shaan played the role of Elphaba for the Abbey Musical Theatre's production of "Wicked" and in October of the same year was in the production "Broadway Hitmen" in Clarence Street theatre in Hamilton. In 2019 Shaan played the role of Rumpleteaser in the NZ  tour of "CATS" and was cast in the title role of Mary Poppins for Amici Productions April 2020 Season at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland, unfortunately postponed due to Covid 19. Fortunately, this production was able to be re-scheduled for 16th October to 3rd November 2020.

In May 2021 Shaan & Jeremy welcomed their first child, a daughter.

Sophie Sparrow

Sophie Sparrow

Whangarei soprano, Sophie Sparrow completed a Bachelor of Music with first class honours in Classical Voice Performance in 2014, and a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting in June 2016 from the University of Otago. She also attained ATCL with Distinction from Trinity College London in 2009 and is an alumnus of the New Zealand Opera School and IFAC Handa NZ Singing School.

Whilst in Whangarei, Sophie was a regular member of Opera North, performing in their annual Opera in the Garden from 2007 – 2010 and various other Opera North events as a soloist and in ensembles, while she trained with the renowned Joan Kennaway. She has also performed musical theatre roles in Whangarei of “Gabriella” in Sweet Pea Production’s High School Musical, “Aida” in Whangarei Theatre Company’s CATS, and “Candy” in Whangarei Theatre Company’s Buddy Holly: The Buddy Holly Story. As well as theatre, Sophie trained in American Jazz and Contemporary Dance with SMAC studio for six years performing for the likes of Tiki Tane, at the New Zealand Body Building Competition, and who were the guest group at the prestigious Alana Haines Australasian Awards.

Sophie was awarded runner-up in the 2015 Dunedin Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria Competition and was the recipient of the 2014 Dunedin Music Society Award for Excellence in Vocal Performance and 2010 Opera North Scholarship. She has performed operatic roles of “Pamina” in Opera Otago’s The Magic Flute 2015 and the University of Otago adaptions of The Magic Flute 2014, and “Barbarina” in Opera Otago’s The Marriage of Figaro 2012.

In 2016, Sophie was selected as one of 10 Lexus Song Quest Semifinalists and worked with Yvonne Kenny, Terence Dennis and Catherine Norton in an intense one-week workshop in Wellington in July leading up to the semifinal concert. She was the runner-up in the 2016 Wellington Dame Malvina Major Foundation Aria Competition, placed third in the National Young Performer Awards 2016, one of the 2016 Dunedin DMMF Aria finalists, and was runner-up of DPACS Recital Award.

In 2017 Sophie was a soloist for the Auckland Youth Orchestra in their Baroque Concert Series performing at four venues throughout Auckland. She also sang alongside Kawiti Waetford in the 2017 Opera North - Opera in the Garden in Whangarei. Sophie is currently training with Frances Wilson at the Auckland Opera Studio, whilst working part-time and singing at private functions around Auckland. In June Sophie appeared in the chorus of NZ Opera's production of Carmen. 

2017 also saw Sophie placed third in the prestigious Dame Malvina Major Christchurch Aria Competition and gaining acceptance into the first intake of the Dame Malvina Major Opera Studies Programme.

Sophie was the Guest Artist for Opera in the Garden March 2018 . In June 2018, Sophie was a Semi-Finalist in the IFAC Honda Australian Singing Competitions and in August she received the Instituto Italiano Di Cultura Award from this competition. Also in August at Ronald Dellow Memorial Vocal Recital Competition Finals, Sophie was awarded the audience choice and first place.

 In 2019, the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Auckland/Waikato Committee awarded $1,000 to Sophie towards Sophie's Master of Music in performance (Voice) at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.  Highlights of her first year included winning a Countess of Munster Scholarship to help with her fees, a masterclass with Sumi Jo, twice performing at Wigmore Hall and singing First Witch in Dido & Aeneas at Maulbronn Monastery Music Festival in Germany.  Sophie returned to NZ in July 2019 to spend the long vacation here and performed to a packed-out venue in her hometown Whangarei as well as performing with the Auckland Opera Studio.  In August 2019 she won the Dame Malvina Major Aria Competition in Wellington and returned to the UK in September 2019 to start her final year at Guildhall. 

Between January and March 2020, Sophie performed in Guildhall American Songbook Co and was selected as a Guildhall Artist to perform at the Barbican Hall.  Covid 19 changed all that and she returned to NZ at the end of March where she completed her Master of Performing Arts online and gave her final Guildhall recital at the Auckland Opera Studio in NZ in August.   Whilst in NZ, Sophie  teamed up with Eliza Boom and Kawiti Waetford to create Reo Takura Winterless Opera with the aim of promoting the development of younger singers and expansion of Te Reo Maori into Opera via masterclasses and live classical music in venues around Northland. She presented a sold-out Winter Gala in Whangarei in August 2020 (under Covid 19 restrictions) and in September left NZ to join the Royal Academy Opera Programme in London. In November she sang as part of the Whanau Voices of Aotearoa Concert from the Royal Albert Hall in London. Sophie is extremely grateful for all the ongoing support she is receiving.

In March 2021, Sophie graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a Master of Performance with distinction. October 2021, Sophie has reached the final of the Royal Over-Seas League competition and the semi-finals of the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.

Luke Bird

Luke Bird

Since being vocally trained by Joan Kennaway and achieving a Bachelor of Performing Art, Luke’s diversity, chirpy humour and flare for Opera and entertaining have seen him perform a variety of roles including being a featured Opera soloist with renowned Opera sensations Ben Makisi, Lilia Carpinelli & Dame Malvina Major.

In 2007 Luke received a NAPTA nomination for his comedic role as “Hipockets Duncan” in the hit musical ‘The Buddy Holly Story’. In 2008 he was cast in Auckland Theatre Company’s modern take of “Shrew’d”. 2009, saw him cast as ‘Bustopher Jones’ in Cats alongside well-known entertainers Tina Cross & Shane Cortese, (he was later invited to Sydney, Australia to audition for the same role) and was also guest artist for “The Sexy Recession Cabaret” in Auckland, alongside Keisha Castle-Hughes, Eve Gordon and more. In 2011, Luke was cast as ‘Gabriel Von Eisenstein’ in the Comedy Opera ‘Die Fledermaus’ with Opera sensation Helen Medlyn.

In 2013 he performed in the NZ premiere of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in Wellington, where he portrayed principal role ‘Monsieur Andre’ and received rave reviews for his take on the role.

In 2014 Luke completed a season with the New Zealand production of ‘HAIRSPRAY’ – The Musical, playing the principal comedic role of ‘The Male Authority Figure’ and was understudy for ‘Edna Turnblad’. In February 2016 Luke completed a very successful season for ‘PEOPLE LIKE US – The NEW TRANS Musical’. He was offered the lead role of ‘James/Bianca’ playing a cross-dressing Dad who decides to ‘come out’ to his family that he wants to become a woman. A true story, with Luke receiving rave reviews for his ‘realistic’ and ‘natural’ performance.

Other Musical Credits include Disney’s - Beauty and the Beast, Jekyll & Hyde & Cabaret. Luke has competed successfully at the NZ Aria competitions and performed in the 2012 NZ Opera ‘Rigolletto’ as well as being a regular touring artist for ‘Coca Cola Christmas in the Park’. In 2013 Luke performed the National Anthems of both New Zealand and Australia and in 2014 he was invited to perform on board the cruise ship ‘The Pacific Pearl’ receiving high praise. He was also the Guest Artist for the 2014 Opera in the Park Concert and the Guest Artist for the prestigious event ‘Opera in the Garden 2015’. In the same year, Luke was asked to perform in the Hainan Film Festival in China where his performance received rave reviews.

Television Credits include Shortland Street, Power Rangers and Beyond the Darklands. Luke has launched ‘Luke Bird Entertainment’ and created a splash in the entertainment world as highly sought-after MC and entertainer.

He is a founding member of the hit comedy clan “The DG NOFNOFS” He has collaborated & produced comedy such as “A night with a Durty Gurl”.

Luke produced his own stage show “The Luke Bird Experience” to rave reviews “NZ’s very own Graham Norton meets the Royal Variety Show” – The New Zealand Herald Noted in New Zealand for his fashionable outfits with bursts of colour and sparkle, Luke works closely with New Zealand designers such as ‘WORLD’ as one of their ‘WORLDman’ Celebrities. Luke has also been working on a new casualwear collection called ‘BIRDman’ an exclusive range for his fans ‘BIRDwatchers’ and is currently working on a ‘LittleBIRD’ Kids range for 2016.

Luke signed with ‘Celebrity Speakers NZ’ as one of their Gold Elite Performers and Speakers. He is booked for numerous amounts of MC work from corporate events to weddings all around the country. Luke also now writes for a popular Australian Performing Arts Magazine ‘AAA Australia’. His column ‘The WORD of BIRD’ is very popular, going out to 22,000 readers monthly online plus an additional 50,000 copies within Australia. Editor and Australian Musical Theatre Star ‘Stephen Mahy’ says, ‘We are lucky to have the BIRDman writing for our Aussie mag as we know how precious Kiwis are, we are the lucky ones to have him’.

In 2016 Luke was the Entertainment Judge for the HIT NZ TV show ‘The Stage’ and is the co-host of the new season of NZ’s favourite singing TV show ‘Sidewalk Karaoke’. He is also a guest Judge on popular baking show ‘Whanau Bake-Off’. In 2017 Luke was also approached by TVNZ to host the ‘Neighbourhood’ series for TVONE showcasing his hometown of Whangarei. He is also the new face of Maori Television with social media and events and being recognised as one of NZ’s new TV and social personalities, ‘NZ’s own larger than life, 6ft5, sequinned exclamation mark’ – NZ Herald. In 2021 Luke is the co-host of Maori TV's "Lucky Dip" game show.

Luke wishes to thank his friends and Family, especially his MammaBIRD and Granma for their overwhelming love & endless support.

Facebook: Luke Bird Entertainment Ltd Instagram: lukebird0 #lukebird #BIRDman

Hayden Tee

Hayden Tee

Born in New Zealand, an ex pupil of Joan Kennaway and trained at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), Hayden Tee is acclaimed for his work as Performer, Director and Recording Artist in Theatre, Concert and Cabaret throughout New Zealand, Australia, the U.K and the U.S.

Since locating to the USA in 2010 Hayden has appeared in a number of productions including originating the role of Jack Worthing in the new Gordon/Gruska musical Being Earnest, playing Edward Rutledge in 1776, Cinderellas Prince/ Wolf in Into the Woods (Director Susan V. Booth, Alliance Theater co), King Arthur in Camelot (dir. Ted Pappas, Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Freddy Einsford Hill In My Fair Lady (dir. Charles Repole, North Shore Music Theatre) and Captain Hook / Mr Darling in Peter Pan (dir. Michael Lichtefeld). Hayden recently played the role of Jack in the new musical version of The Importance of Being Earnets titled Being Earnest written by Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska at the New Works festival in CA under the direction of Robert Kelly.

Hayden appeared as Marius in the 20th anniversary West-end production of Les Miserables (dir. John Caird / Trevor Nunn, London UK), Thomas Andrews in Titanic: The Musical (dir. John Diedrich, Sydney AUS) (A.T Award nom.), Professor Bhaer in Little Women The Musical, (dir; Stuart Maunder, York Theatre, Kookaburra, AUS) (Glugg Award), Lt. Joe Cable in South Pacific (dir. Joanne Robinson, Adelaide AUS)(A.T.G Award nom), the tours of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (dir. Darren Yap, AUS), Songs for a New World (dir. Peter Cousens, AUS), The Wizard of Oz (dir. Nancye Hayes, AUS) and created the role of Cuddlepie in the workshop of The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (dir. Neil Armfield, Sydney AUS).

Hayden made his Opera debut in 2007 appearing in the Australian production of Dead Man Walking (dir. Nigel Jaimeson, State Theatre, Sydney AUS) in the lead tenor role of Father Grenville. He has toured internationally as Simon Stride and standby Jekyll and Hyde in Jekyll and Hyde (dir; John Diedrich, Sth KR/TWN), Freddy Einsford-Hill in Opera Australia’s production of My Fair Lady (dir; Stuart Maunder, NZ), Bustopher Jones / Gus / Growltiger in Cats (dir. Trevor Nunn / Joanne Robinson, Sth KR) and Grumio in Kiss Me Kate (dir. Elric Hooper, NZ).
Hayden ranked in the top twelve of the 2005 BBC Voice of Musical Theatre (Cardiff UK) and in 2003, received considerable praise for his satirical tonight show The Muftee Show, which played for twelve months in Australia, featuring guest appearances from some of the top names in Australian and American show business. In 2002, Hayden won the New York Award at the Sydney Cabaret Convention, which led to him performing in prestigious cabaret venues across New Zealand, Australia, England and several of the top cabaret rooms in The United States. At this time, he released his self-titled CD which was selected as one of the five best male CDs of that year by Cabaret Hotline Online, while in 2009 he released his second album Generation whY? LIVE.

Hayden's credits as a Director include Godspell (CMRI, Sydney AUS), The Magic Flute (Sydney AUS) and A42A3 for the Short, Sweet and Song Festival (Sydney AUS) which also won the Peoples Choice Award.

In May 2017 Hayden appeared as Lea Sonia /Lana in Only Heaven Knows, taking a break from playing Javert in the new Cameron Mackintosh 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables in Australia, West End and Broadway. In June 2018 Hayden took part in the "Because of Joan" concert in memory of Joan Kennaway and from September 2018 is appearing as Trunchball in the RSC's production on "Matilda" at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West end.

In November 2019 Hayden returned to NZ to play Javert in Les Mis at The Civic in Auckland. Covid 19 then intervened which saw Hayden remaining in NZ. He is appearing in The Shows Must Go On tour of NZ commencing in Christchurch on 24th September 2020, followed by his first pantomime as Wicked Stepsister in GMG's production of Cinderella in December 2020.

Lisbe Jooste

Lisbe Jooste

Lisbe Jooste acquired her Bachelor of Music and Singing at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa (SA).

In the following years, Lisbe recorded five solo cd's of Gospel Music with Maranatha Record Company, did regular concert tours in SA as well as in Europe and recorded several Gospel Music productions for SA television. Lisbe managed her own singing school for 10 years in Pretoria SA where she trained singers especially in Gospel Music. As a singing teacher at Psalmody Academy at Rhema Church, Johannesburg, she was invited to teach singers at their conference in Netherlands, at various churches in Europe and twice at the City Harvest Church in Singapore.

Since Lisbe's immigration to NZ in 2009, she has actively refreshed her training in classical singing with Evelyn Hatfield and Joan Kennaway and successfully completed the ABRSM Diploma in Music Performance. She has also been accepted as a member of NEWZATS, IRMTNZ and NZCF.


Since 2010, Lisbe has sung regularly with Opera North, both as a chorus member and soloist. She also performs as accompanist for singers on a regular basis and has conducted Opera North when Joan Kennaway has been indisposed. She taught in several schools over a period of 7 years, but has now settled as a private singing teacher at home in Whangarei. She still performs regularly at local SA churches.

Lisbe has been the Musical Director of Whangarei Choral Society since 2014 and has also performed as soloist with them. She also established the Whangarei Youth Choir, on request, in 2015. Following Joan Kennaway's death in 2018, Lisbe has also taken on a role as a conductor for Opera North.

In 2019, Lisbe started a new Christian-based choir called Charismata.


Maria Satterfield

Maria Satterfield

Maria Satterfield ATCL, LTCL

Maria began singing with Joan, albeit briefly, at 15 after being spotted singing with great gusto but not much finesse in a Whangarei Theatre Company (WTC)  show! Life was busy and singing lessons fell by the by (with another brief year singing under Bronwyn Kennaway).


She appeared in every WTC show she could until 21, when she left for America and returned a few years later with her husband Brian.

At 25, Maria was studying Theatre at Northtec when she crossed paths with Joan again, and quickly grabbed the opportunity to begin lessons proper. She was also invited to join Opera North, in it’s 3rd year of performance. There was no turning back and Maria sang with the group for 10 yrs.

During that time Joan mentored her into becoming a singing teacher, and fostered what would become a lifelong passion for vocal technique across genres. She passed her ATCL(voice), and then LTCL(recital) with distinction and taught full time for 8 yrs.

Maria has enjoyed working with Northland Youth Theatre (9yrs) Bogwood productions, Playfair Ltd, and forming her own production company Holee Cow Productions. She joined with other Opera North members (including Kawiti Waetford her then student, and Shaan Antunovich) to perform regularly in restaurants and at community events.

She left Whangarei in 2010 to perform in Auckland, in Peach Theatre Co’s Sweeney Todd, but promptly returned with Brian to begin their family.

Now, sporting two young sons, she is starting to find time to begin performing and teaching again, with her usual gusto… and hopefully just a little more finesse, care of Joan Kennaway!

Alisa Hollings

Alisa Hollings

Alisa has always been passionate about theatre and singing and in 1997 became a pupil of Joan Kennaway’s when she was still at Intermediate School. Aged 15 she played the understudy for Eponine in Maungatoroto Theatre’s production of Les Mis.

In 2003 she attained her ATCL with distinction, the top marks in Northland, and in 2005 was accepted at NASDA. At the end of her third year she was given the honour of playing the lead in Urine Town, their final production. After graduating from NASDA in 2008 she returned to Whangarei before going to Holland with Clint, the man who in 2011 became her husband.

Alisa returned to Whangarei in 2010 and re-joined Opera North. She played the part of Ellen in Miss Saigon and was in the production A Pack of Girls. She now has 2 children and is currently teaching drama at Kamo Intermediate.  

In July 2017 Alisa played the role of Rosie in Centre Events Ltd's very successful production of Mamma Mia in Whangarei.

Lisa Rangi

Lisa Rangi

Lisa Rangi (Abbott), mezzo-soprano, hails from Taranaki, but spent 7 years living in Northland between 2000-2007.


She has extensive Musical Theatre experience, having played Florence in “Chess”, Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” and Dorothy Brock in “42nd Street” and numerous other roles before moving to Whangarei. Once there she played one of the 5 characters in Otamatea Repertory’s “The World Goes Round” and Fantine in “Les Miserables”.

She had also completed a Diploma of Teaching and an LTCL in Performance Singing while in Taranaki and worked towards FTCL with Joan Kennaway. She is now working towards FTCL in Musical Theatre.
Lisa thoroughly enjoyed her time with Opera North and performed several times with them, including 5 OITG’s. Wanting to try some other genres of singing, she also went to Nationals with Whangarei Harmony Chorus twice.
Lisa had a very successful singing studio in Northland teaching many people over 7 years, both at home and at Bream Bay College.

Upon returning to New Plymouth she took the lead role of Grizabella in “Cats”, and has sung at major events such as: Christmas at the Bowl and Wearable Arts.
The teaching continues, with private pupils, choirs, and schools. She also performs as part of a duo, Class Act, which specializes in MT.
In April 2017, Lisa was elected President of New Zealand Associated Teachers of Singing, a role which although incredibly “frightening”, is also a wonderful challenge to grow as a teacher and performer.

Ju-An Kim

Ju-An Kim

A talented pianist, Juan completed his Bachelor of Music, majoring in Piano Performance, under Qu Yong at the University of Auckland. Performance history includes playing for Whangarei’s Die Fledermaus and Bach B-minor Mass at Auckland Town Hall with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra.

Juan is the official accompanist and vocal coach at the University of Auckland and the Auckland Choral Society.

He also works as a private vocal coach and performs prolifically in various events around New Zealand. In March 2016 Juan married Selah Lee and they welcomed the birth of their first child in 2018.

Rhiannon Cooper

Rhiannon Cooper

Prior to becoming a pupil of Joan Kennaway at age 14, Rhiannon had been a pupil of Jonathan Waetford, and Kamilla Dunstan, but achieving the voice she has today has been far from easy. Firstly, with the help of Joan and a speech therapist, Rhiannon overcame problems with her misformed vocal chords. In 2014 an operation on her nose to clear a blockage resulted in her saying ‘I don’t dislike that sound’. From then on her voice went from strength to strength.

2015 was a significant year for Rhiannon. She attended the IFAC Handa NZ Singing School in the summer which finally gave her confidence in her own voice.

In the Northland Performing Arts Vocal Competitions later that year, the Adjudicator, Ian Campbell, was so impressed with her voice he went out of his way to encourage her to pursue a musical career. Together with his encouragement and that of Joan Kennaway, Rhiannon finally agreed to pursue singing at university level. She has been nominated twice for the PACANZ National Young Performer of the Year Award. In 2017 she was awarded the Colin McDonald Memorial prize and also received the three-year Dunedin RSA choir scholarship in 2018.

Rhiannon was a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir from 2017-2019 and toured with them on their 40th Anniversary Pacific Tour in December 2019. In August 2019, Rhiannon appeared as Peep Bo in Opera Otago's production of The Mikado. 

Rhiannon completed a Bachelor of Music (Hons) in classical performance at Dunedin University in 2020 studying under PPF Judith Henley, Assoc. Professor Judy Bellingham and Dr. Tessa Romano. She is currently employed at the University part-time whilst working towards completing her Masters degree with Tessa.

Rhiannon is now a member of Octagon Ensemble. In October 2020 she appeared in a Spring Concert at Olveston Historic Home in Dunedin.  As a member of Opera Otago, Rhiannon appeared in their November 2020 production of The Baritone Must Die. With the NZ Youth Choir, Rhiannon sang at the State Opening of Parliament on 26th November.

In 2021 Rhiannon joined soprano Anna Leese and international star Simon O'Neill in a concert "Celebrating 2021" at the Dunedin Centre and Dunedin Town Hall.

The Merle Higgie award named after a former Whanganui opera lover, for the most improved singer was awarded to Rhiannon Cooper at the Royal Whanganui Opera House on 23 January 2022.   ...And then there was a young woman...Rhiannon Cooper, an incredible young singer...one to watch. As she glided onto the stage and sang “Einsam in truben Tagen” from Lohengrin by Wagner this statuesque young singer was riveting, utterly memorable, we will hear more of her. She had that indefinable quality a powerful stage presence, a quality that can’t be learned. ✍️ Review: Whanganui Chronicle - 24 January 2022


Kamilla Dunstan-Venables

Kamilla Dunstan-Venables

Kamilla is a mezzo soprano and completed her studies at the International Opera School at the Royal College of Music (London) under the tutelage of Russell Smythe. She then completed her Masters in Music Performance (with Distinction) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a Bachelor of Music (Honours) at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London). Kamilla is a Samling Artist and a Wagner Scholar where she was fortunate to attend the Bayreuth Festspiele in Germany (2015) under the Wagner Society of Scotland.

Since being at the Royal College of Music, Kamilla has performed the role of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (Strauss), the title role of Ariodante for the London Handel Festival's production of Ariodante (Handel) and  the role of Hänsel in Humperdinck's opera of Hänsel und Gretel as part of the IOSRCM.

Past roles include Dorabella, Cosi fan tutte (Mozart), La Marchande de Journaux, Les Mammelles de Tiresias (Poulanc). Kamilla has covered the role of Ninetta in British Youth Opera's production of Jonathan Dove's opera The Little Green Swallow and Cherubino in the Alexander Gibson Opera School's production of (RCS) in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart), Annio from La Clemenza di Tito (Mozart) with RCS Opera School, Julia Grant, Appomattox (Glass) with Leeds Youth Opera and small scenes, Octavian, Die Rosenkavalier (Strauss), Angelina, La Cenerentola (Rossini) (RCS), Hedwig, William Tell (Rossini) (GSMD), Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia (Britten) (GSMD) to name a few.

Past performances include Soloist with the Coldstream Guards (Oct, 2012), Soloist for City of London Festival with the English Chamber Orchestra at St Paul's Cathedral (London) - Handel's Te Deum (HWV 278) and Jubilate Utrecht (HWV 279), and the soloist for Durfulè's Requiem with the Glasgow City Chorus (March, 2014). Kamilla is an ABRSM Scholar, and proudly supported by a Tutton Award Help Musicians UK and the Josephine Baker Trust.


In March 2016 Kamilla was awarded a Polensky Fellowship Scholarship to attend the summer Aspen Music Festival and School. 

In 2017 Kamilla covered a major role for Garsington and became engaged to Christian Venables.

In Nov 2018 Kamilla was a Finalist in the Maureen Lehane Vocal Award.

Early 2019 saw Kamilla sing the lead role of Fanny Price in Jonathan Dove's "Mansfield Park" with Opera South and from  March to August 2019 Kamilla was cover for 2nd Lady in Glyndebourne's "The Magic Flute". In May 2019 Kamilla joined Owen White Management and is now studying with Claire Rutter.

In November 2020 Kamilla  made her Glyndebourne debut in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte as Zweite Dame and in December, she performed in the Whanau London Voices broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall.

Kamilla is a Founder of "Manor Opera" which put on an outdoor "Opera in the Garden" in May 2021. In July 2021 Kamilla performed the role of Suzy/Lolette in West Green House Opera’s production of La Rondine (Puccini), sadly previously cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19. In October 2021, Kamilla married Christian Venables and is to make her ENO Debut in November as Waltraute in "The Valkyrie".

Teresa Wojcik

Teresa Wojcik

Teresa was born and raised in Whangarei where she enjoyed the rich and varied cultural opportunities available. She performed with Opera North and WTC and countless school productions and concerts. She enjoyed private vocal tutelage from Evelyn Hattfield.

In 2011 she moved to Dunedin to begin her Bachelor of Music at the University of Otago majoring in Classical Singing (Mezzo) under Judy Bellingham and Composition/Songwriting which she completed in 2013.

During her studies she took on several opera roles, such as 'Cherubino' in Opera Otago's The Marriage of Figaro and 'Ida' in Sweet Pea Production's Die Fledermaus, as well as several new music projects, such as the 'Narrator' from Castle of the Sun (music by Kara Braithwaite-Westoby) and as a member of the 'Greek Chorus' from Women of Troy (music by Corwin Newall).

She also attended the NZSS twice (2011 and 2013), sang regularly at the Britten Festivals in Dunedin and was a member of the infamous Sexytet.

In 2014 she moved to Germany where she began the transition to her true Fach - coloratura Soprano. Since 2016 she has been working freelance as a soloist with the TourneeOper Mannheim, bringing condensed operas to primary school children in Germany and Switzerland. She also gives concerts, works as a soloist in choirs, conducts, offers vocal coaching for choirs and individuals and enjoys writing her own music.

In 2017 she was invited to sing 'The Narrator' in a production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph.

In 2018 she moved to Australia and is living in Canberra where she is a Vocal Coach and Private Singing Teacher at Perform Australia.

Jessica Kerr

Jessica Kerr

Jessica Kerr studied with Joan Kennaway from 1993 to 1999, during her Intermediate and High School years in Whangarei, and during that time was involved in a number of musical theatre productions with WAODS (now Whangarei Theatre Company), Northland Youth Theatre, Otamatea Repertory Theatre and others.

The culmination was the role of Maria opposite Ian Pritchard’s Tony in West Side Story in 1999. In the same year Jessica also achieved her ATCL with Distinction under Joan’s care. Jessica was a regular in the Northland Vocal Competitions and was thrilled to be involved in the very first Opera in the Garden events.

Having been selected as the youngest ever member of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir in 1997-1998, she completed the first year of a Bachelor of Performing Arts at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in 2000. From there Jessica moved to Wellington to study law and literature but continued to take singing lessons and was selected for the National Youth Choir in 2002, singing throughout Eastern Europe on the choir’s 2003 Grand Prix tour. She also sang with the Wellington Youth Choir, Orpheus Choir and Sacred Heart Cathedral Choir throughout her time in Wellington.


Jessica completed her postgraduate study in law at Yale University in the United States in 2009 and moved to the Seychelles in 2013, where she is now a Magistrate and university law lecturer and recently received a pan-African leadership award for her work promoting free access to law. She has married an Italian legal academic and is thankful for all of the time spent practicing Italian pronunciation and diction in Joan’s studio!

Joel Stanners

Joel Stanners

Joel was born and bred in Whangarei.  As well as singing with Opera North, he was involved with numerous Northland Youth Theatre and Whangarei Theatre Company productions, starting onstage as a performer at the age of 12 and moving to lighting at 15.

He has a huge passion for the live entertainment industry, having now worked professionally in the field for the past 10 years.

In 2013, whilst working for Oceania Productions Auckland, he worked on tours and concerts both here and internationally with some of the finest and most iconic musicians in the industry.  For the past three years he has been the lighting designer for the classical music group Sol3Mio, touring with them across NZ and Australia.

Some of his theatre and music credits in NZ include Grease, CATS, Miss Saigon, Jekyll & Hyde, Disco Inferno (for which he won Best Lighting Design at the 2011 NAPTA Awards), The Winery Tour, Rhythm & Vines Festival, Die Fledermaus, Big Day Out Festival, Ed Sheeran, the Beach Boys, Kenny Rogers and Dave Dobbyn.

Joel moved to London in 2016 and has worked on some of the biggest festivals in the world, including Glastonbury, Hyde Park Summertime Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was employed by English National Opera working on shows including Tosca, Don Giovani, Pearl Fishers, Pirates of Penzance, Parthenope and Carousel.  In June 2017 he briefly returned to Whangarei to design the lighting for Mamma Mia produced by Centre Events Ltd.

In January 2017 Joel married Tal Sharville and in April 2018 Joel commenced working as Senior Production Technician at the Southbank Centre in London.

Claudia Cooke

Claudia Cooke

Claudia is currently attending the University of Otago, where she is studying a Bachelor of Music majoring in Classical Voice Performance under the guidance of Judy Bellingham. Claudia began singing at the age of 12 with Pat Scally Richardson and then trained with Joan Kennaway QSM from 2013.

Claudia has been involved in Opera North and Northland Performing Arts Competitions for the last 4 years. In 2015 Claudia gained both her grade 8 singing and flute exams with distinction being awarded the highest mark in northland. In 2016 she gained her ATCL and attended the IFAC Handa NZ Singing School.

In 2016 Claudia became involved in Whangarei Theatre Company where she starred as the character “Maria” in “The Sound of Music”.

Claudia is involved in ACCORD, a female choir run through Auckland University under the guidance of Karen Grylls, Robert Wiremu, Catrin Johnsson and Morag Atchison. She is also involved in the St Patricks Cathedral choir run by James Tibbles.

Dominic Francis

Dominic Francis

Moved to Wellington, and studied Political Sciences & History at Victoria University. joined Bats Theatre and performed in The Young and Hungry Festival 2007. Dominic then became member of the Wellington Youth Choir from 2007- 2010 and performed in a wide range of repertoire, travelling for concerts in Auckland, Nelson and Hawke's Bay.

He was then a member of Wellington's versatile chamber choir Nota Bene, which has a reputation for innovative programming and high performance standards. Dominic also sang for the Wellington choir during the Rugby World Cup, performing at pool matches and the World Cup quarterfinals singing the Welsh, Irish, Australian and South African anthems.

In 2013 Dominic played a lead role in the Fringe Festival show "Days of the Bold and the Restless" and sang vocal support in The Phantom of the Opera, opening at the St James in June 2013. In 2014 Dominic was in the musical Grease at The Opera House, Wellington.

Currently Francis is a member of Wellington Footlights and appearing in a number of their productions.

Simon Watson

Simon Watson

Simon spent two years at the University of Otago as part of a double degree in Music and Arts, where he read Music, French, German, History and Legal Studies, and specialised in Classical Performance Voice under the tutelage of Flora Edwards and Judy Bellingham. During this time also attended the 2011 New Zealand Singing School, where he was selected to perform as a soloist in both the Musical Theatre Cabaret and the Classical Recital and sang the role of Papageno in an excerpt from Die Zauberflöte staged by renowned Australian opera director, performer and teacher Christine Douglas.

At the end of his second year, Simon transferred to the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in Christchurch, in order to pursue his passion for Musical Theatre. During his time at NASDA, Simon performed in the ensemble of Hair, as 'Armand' in Once On This Island, 'Jason/Bomber/Lecturer' in Simon Stephens’ Pornography, 'Duke Solinus/Balathazar/Officer in Buff' in The Comedy of Errors and took on the challenging role of 'Adult Male' in his graduation musical Spring Awakening, which entailed playing nine separate characters within the show, a performance which was well-reviewed by musical theatre authority and former West End casting director Kurt Ganzl.

In addition to these performances, Simon helped to devise, stage and perform the cabaret show Next, which premiered at the The Next Stage, NASDA’s 2014 cabaret showcase at the Mashina Lounge in Christchurch Casino and, as a member of the NASDA Chorus, he was privileged to perform in The Magical Music of Disney with the CSO, two Voices of Canterbury concerts and with Elaine Paige during her 2012 concert in Christchurch.

In addition to attending the 2011 and 2013 New Zealand Singing Schools, Simon was one of only 26 students hand-picked to be part of the Emerging Professionals stream at the inaugural 2014 Christchurch International Musical Theatre Summer School (CIMTSS), where he was privileged to be tutored by, among others, Broadway actress Andréa Burns, West End musical director Mark W. Dorrall and Tom Hodgson, former resident choreographer for the Australian and Broadway productions of Billy Elliott.

After graduating from NASDA with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Music Theatre), Simon was cast as Monsieur Lefèvre in the Christchurch premiere production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, which opened in April 2015 at the Isaac Theatre Royal to rave reviews and sold-out houses. He left New Zealand for London in May 2015 and in 2016 graduated from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts with a PGDip/MA in Musical Theatre and is currently auditioning for parts.

Whitney Channings

Whitney Channings

In 2013 Whitney completed her studies at NASDA, The National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in Christchurch, with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Music Theatre). During her time there her subjects included singing, acting, spoken voice, tap, jazz, ballet, theatre studies and musicianship. She performed in Guys and Dolls, Blackrock, Beauty and the Beast and Hair, as well as Amadeus at The Court Theatre.

In 2014 Whitney scored her first professional contract, performing in the National Tour of Mr McGee and the Biting Flea with Capital E National Theatre for Children, based in Wellington. The show involved classical harmonies, dance choreography, physical theatre and playing the ukulele!

This was followed by a second tour for Capital E in Kiwi Moon, a musical puppet show about a little white kiwi, based on the picture book by Gavin Bishop. This was Whitney’s first foray into puppetry. The tours covered eighteen main centres from Kaitaia to Invercargill.
In 2015 Whitney began recording her own original music. In 2016 she moved to the UK, to pursue her acting ambitions, while travelling to as many countries as possible. She spent a year in London, where she performed in two of London’s immersive theatre tourist attractions, playing a variety of iconic characters from Mrs Lovett to Princess Fiona!

Twenty-five countries later, she returned home in May 2018, where she produced and performed in "Growing Pains: A Cabaret" with Alexandra McKellar at the Otamatea Repertory Theatre in Northland. She is now based in Auckland and is looking forward to getting stuck into her next project. Whitney has a particular interest in cabaret and song writing and would like to continue creating her own original music and shows.

Her music and work can be followed here: https://m.facebook.com/WhitneyChannings.Performer/

Phoebe Robertson

Phoebe Robertson

Phoebe is currently enrolled in NASDA the National Academy of Singing & Dramatic Arts in Christchurch; heading for a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree in musical theatre. It was during the 2017 Whangarei production of "Mamma Mia", when she was cast in a principal role, that Phoebe decided her professional future lay on the stage. In that same year, Phoebe won the Senior Vocal Championship and the Northland Aria Award at the Northland Performing Arts Competition.



Phoebe began singing lessons with Maria Satterfield at 7 years of age and was then tutored by Joan Kennaway from age 9. She was a founding member of Joan’s youth choir, ‘Joan’s Tweeters’ and started singing in the Opera North Chorus at just thirteen. Phoebe enjoys a variety of genres but particularly likes musical theatre and Italian arias.

Phoebe passed her advanced certificate Trinity College singing exam with a distinction result of 97% , the highest Trinity mark in New Zealand that year and as a result received their Exhibition Award. Joan Kennaway encouraged her to take on singing students of her own, something she enjoyed, while also studying Music and Drama at Whangarei Girls High School.

Phoebe was offered a place as an alto, in the New Zealand Secondary Students choir; a two-year commitment that had her travelling for performances throughout New Zealand. In July 2016, the NZSS choir travelled to Canada, to be guests of honour at the Powell River International Choral festival, followed by a tour of British Columbia to sing their repertoire.


Monique Yovich

Monique Yovich

Monique performed with Opera North for many years as a chorus member & soloist.

Vocally trained by Joan Kennaway, Monique completed her ATCL in singing and LTCL in voice.

Monique has done voice-overs for radio, worked as an extra in television and featured in TV commercials.

Performance highlights include playing Casilda in The Gondoliers, Cosette -Les Miserables, Irene Roth - Crazy for You and Rosalia - West Side Story.

Also performed with Opera Factory, Centre Stage, a soloist for Waitakere Christmas in the Park and the Chorus of NZ Opera.

Was a member of Handel Consort & Quire, directed by Robert Howell. This is an ensemble of singers and instrumentalists committed to performing Handel's lesser-known and less-performed works to the highest musical standard with attention to baroque stylistic detail.

Monique recently moved to Auckland and is loving working on new styles of singing. She has  been doing cabaret songs in the style of jazz swing & pop & practising her new repertoire out at retirement homes. Now her housebuild is completed, Monique plans to focus again on her creative interests.


Dean Watson

Dean Watson

Dean began singing at the age of 7 with Maria Satterfield and then trained with Joan Kennaway QSM from 2011. Dean has been heavily involved with the Northland Singing Competitions since he was 7 years old and has performed with Opera North for the past 4 years. He has also been heavily involved with Whangarei Theatre Company since 2012, and in 2016 he featured in “The Sound of Music” as the character “Rolf”. In 2015 he successfully completed his Trinity College of London Grade 8 Singing exam. Dean also competed for several years in the National Rock’n’Roll Competitions which are held each year, in different cities all over New Zealand. 

In September 2016, Dean went on a Student Exchange to France for 5 month and while there, he took many opportunities to go to other French schools and groups and give presentations about himself and the New Zealand culture, speaking in French and then translating it into English for the English classes. By doing this, his profile as a visitor was featured in the local newspaper “La Montagne”. This was a fantastic experience for Dean as it has helped him greatly with his ability to understand spoken and written French. Dean loves the French language and culture, and looks forward to the opportunity to return to France one day soon.

In December 2019 Dean graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in French. He is a Mentor with the Mentormecollective.weebly.com.


John McDonald

John McDonald

John began singing at the age of 7 years old in Rotorua where he regularly competed in the Lockwood Aria Singing Competitions Junior Section. Moving to Whangarei when he was 10 years old he competed regularly in the Northland Singing Competitions. He began singing with Joan Kennaway in 2011 and sang with Opera North for four years.

John attended the NZ Singing School in Napier in January 2012 and achieved Grade 8 singing with Merit in 2013.

In 2013 he was nominated by the Adjudicator at the Northland Singing Competitions, to perform at the 2014 PACANZ Young Performer of the Year Singing Competition in Palmerston North.

John is involved in the male singing group the ‘Sextets’, a small group of male singers from the university who perform at various functions in Dunedin and in which many of New Zealand’s finest male singers have been involved. Notable former members include, Peter Chin, Sir William Southgate, Bryan Drake, Dr John Borrie, Geoffrey de Lautour, Roger Wilson, Piri Sciascia, Richard Madden, Martin Snell, Simon O'Neill, Jonathan Lemalu."

John graduated from Otago University in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Music and Business Management. He still lives in Dunedin and is working as Music Producer for SCARFE.

Tracey Barnier-Willis

Tracey Barnier-Willis

After moving to Whangarei in 1997, Tracey was introduced to the Northland singing scene at Community Education singing classes with Joan Kennaway and Margie Paul. Later that year she was asked to join Opera North and has been a member ever since. Tracey studied singing with Joan throughout this time, attaining her ATCL in 2003 & LTCL in 2006, both in Vocal Recital.

She attended the National Singing School in Napier in 2003 and again in 2007 as an Advance Student. There she enjoyed Master Classes with such renowned singers and tutors as Dame Malvina Major, Judy Bellingham, Isabel Cunningham, Helen Medlyn and David Harper.


Tracey has also won the Open Senior Vocal Championship at the Northland Performing Arts Competitions.

In 2007 Tracey moved to Croatia for 7 months and studied with local Operatic Soprano, Sanja Erceg-Vrekalo.

A Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano, her repertoire ranges widely, from Baroque and Classical to Musical Theatre and Jazz, but her favourite genre is Opera. Her roles include Dido (Dido & Aeneas), Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), the Contralto solo (Handel’s Messiah) and in 2011 understudying Helen Medlyn as Prince Orlofski in Die Fledermaus. A regular guest soloist with Whangarei Choral Society, Tracey has also been guest soloist with Whangarei Brass Band, Northland Sinfonia and the Auckland Youth Orchestra.

In 2009 Tracey founded Recital, providing music and vocals for events.
Through 2009 to 2012 she led monthly Opera Recital nights at Amici Restaurant in Whangarei featuring solos, duets and ensembles on differing themes, which were hugely popular.

In 2015 Tracey presented as Musical Director, Opera In The Bay, Kerikeri. For this she arranged and performed a concert version of Cosi fan Tutte with fellow Opera North members and a small orchestral ensemble including Juan Kim on piano.

In the last few years Tracey has begun teaching singing, taking students of all ages for one on one lessons. Tracey returned to her native Australia in January 2019 where she is working as a singing teacher.

Paul Dickens-Jacobs

Paul Dickens-Jacobs

In 2007 Paul played the role of Roger in 'RENT' and in 2008 he played Amos in 'Chicago' both with the Riverlea Musikmakers.

He then played Steve in the rock musical 'Hair' in 2008 with the Hamilton Operatic Society while also playing the lead in the 07, 08, 09 & 10 Riverlea Christmas Shows.

In 2010 Paul played the role of John in the Hamilton Musical Theatre Company's production of "Miss Saigon" and was then a cast member and understudy for John in the 2011 in North Shore Musical Theatre's production of the same show. Paul also had a lead part in "Songs for a New World" staged by North Shore Music Theatre in 2011.

Paul just finished a 3 year stint with the vocal group 'Fan-tas-tique' which performed corporate events around Hamilton including its own four week headlining show 'Fantastique Presents: Las Vegas'.

Paul moved back to Whangarei, re-joined Opera North and became an active member of the Whangarei Theatre Club. In August 2014 he had great success as Billy Flynn in their sold-out production of “Chicago”. He married in December 2015 and moved to  Michigan, USA where he was still involved with musical theatre. Paul and his partner returned to live in Whangarei NZ in 2020 and Paul again became involved with Whangarei Theatre Company, playing the title role of Shrek in the musical of the same name in November.

Kaiti Waetford