Kiwi opera star Natasha Te Rupe Wilson pursues career in Europe after winning $ 50,000 Dame Malvina Major award
Auckland soprano and Dame Malvina Major Award winner Natasha Te Rupe Wilson recently traveled from New Zealand to Strasbourg, France, to audition with various operas across Europe.
Auckland soprano Natasha Te Rupe Wilson said winning the prestigious Lady Malvina Major Award of $ 50,000 is “a tremendous honor and privilege” that will help her pursue her opera career in Europe.
The 27-year-old singer and actress’s victory saw her recently travel to Strasbourg, France, to audition with various opera houses, which offer paid internships and the opportunity to perform on stage across Europe. .
“It’s overwhelming. Winning the award means that a singer in my position, especially during Covid, can do anything that helps start a career overseas, ”said Te Rupe Wilson.
“You have to be able to afford to go singing not only for auditions, but also for coaching, and that costs money. And then there is travel and spending in Europe.
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“But the price allows me to live while auditioning. It bridges that gap and makes the feeling less difficult. It’s just a huge honor and a huge privilege.
Te Rupe Wilson (Te Arawa, Ngā Puhi) won the award created in 2020 and funded by Joan Egan to recognize Dame Malvina’s legacy and vision to “share the dream” by supporting the career development of young singers from talented kiwi opera.
Dame Malvina says Natasha has shown at the grassroots that she is determined to succeed, despite the difficulties and challenges currently presented by the global pandemic.
“I have watched her progress with determination over the past few years, where she has increasingly become a true performer,” she said.
“Besides having a great voice, she’s a serious actress and she obviously loves acting – the stage is her happy place.”
Te Rupe Wilson is proud to continue the musical legacy of her whānau, especially having recently decided to use her full name after years of feeling disconnected and estranged from her Maori heritage.
The change comes after Te Rupe Wilson learned at a young age that his great-grandfather, Toroa Wirihana Rupe, had changed his last name to prevent their whānau from being discriminated against.
“The Maori side of my family is really musical. It is a legacy for my whānau. My great-grandfather was a drummer, my grandfather Alfie was a talented musician, and my father was a bassist and heavy metal singer.
“Returning my name to Te Rupe Wilson, because my grandfather and his father are buried Te Rupe Wilson, is just a way of honoring my tīpuna.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, ever since I found out our last name was Te Rupe Wilson, and not just Wilson.”
Her award crowns a big year, which started with Te Rupe Wilson performing the role of Lisa for Days Bay Opera’s The Sonnambula, and Purea in the world premiere of Tim Finn – of Split Enz and Crowded House Fame – Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator with the New Zealand Opera.
The beautiful and haunting Pasifika-themed production tells the story of Tupaia, a Tahitian star navigator, and his time aboard the James Cook Effort. Tupaia sailed from Tahiti with Cook on effort maiden voyage in 1769, but the two navigators fail to find their way into each other’s world.
Te Rupe Wilson is hopeful her next auditions will open up new opportunities to work in Europe in 2022, but she will return home to New Zealand in January and can’t wait to reprise her role as Purea, along with two more shows from Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator scheduled for next May in Porirua.
“It was surreal. Working alongside Tim Finn on his first opera was crazy, and it was also a really special job to be a part of, especially because it’s such an important story in our culture.
“It was a really special show, and I’m really happy to do it again next year.”