Meet the Lexus Song Quest semi-finalists: Filipe Manu
28 June 2016
One of the 10 singers vying to join the opera competition's impressive list of winners.
Filipe holds an ATCL Diploma through Trinity College London and is completing postgraduate study at the University of Waikato as a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar. Filipe has been a student at the New Zealand Opera School since 2013 and was named 2014’s New Zealand Young Performer of the Year. He was a finalist in the New Zealand Aria that same year and in 2015 was named a Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera. Filipe regularly sings in the New Zealand Opera Chorus and has sung lead tenor roles in The Barber of Seville and The Elixir of Love in the company’s schools adapted productions.
What is your first memory of singing in front of other people?
My first public solo performance was when I was in primary school. I was given a verse in the song No Matter What by Boyzone to sing with two girls in my class. We had to perform in front of the whole school. My family had not been in New Zealand that long and I don't think anyone knew I could speak English, let alone sing. It was the most frightening thing ever because I started a whole octave too high and the verse progressively gets higher.
When did you turn to opera and what was the draw?
I started singing lessons during my time at Dilworth School in Auckland, where I was lucky enough to be educated on a scholarship. The school gave me a lot of amazing opportunities, one of which was introducing me to the world of classical music in Auckland. I became involved with the Auckland Opera Studio production of La Clemenza di Tito when I was 16 because our music teacher wanted us to give singing a proper go. I was amazed music could sound so beautiful and other young people were doing it so well. I wanted to be like them.
Who are the singers who inspire you?
I am inspired by singers who have been trailblazers, singers like Dame Malvina Major. Not only has she led the way for all New Zealand opera singers but she has actively given back and tried to help us in every way she can. Simon O'Neill as well – he is so generous with his time and his advice and it has meant the world to me. I admire these people not just for their amazing voices but for their work ethic and sense of community with the next group of singers coming through.
What's your dream role?
Tonio from The Daughter of the Regiment. Vocally, the role is really challenging but fun. He seems like a pretty upbeat, brave kind of a guy who is proactive in chasing after his dreams – and his woman.
Where would you like your career to be in 10 years' time?
I'd really like to be working regularly and based overseas. Would love to have made my debut as Tonio by then!
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I'm the youngest of four boys and was raised in a solo parent home (shout out to my incredible mum). None of them sing and I'm the only one who has anything to do with music.
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