ARTicle Magazine

Reflections from Guildhall, London: Filipe Manu

Filipe Manu · 11 May 2018

Auditions for Aotearoa's prestigious opera competition, Lexus Song Quest, kicked off this week. Tenor Filipe Manu, runner up in the 2016 competition will soon be trying out for the 2018 Lexus Song Quest. Filipe reflects on the amazing opportunities he's enjoyed over the past two years, and how the Lexus Song Quest played a big part in securing a spot at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Filipe Manu

Follow the 2018 Lexus Song Quest journey.

So much has happened since the 2016 Lexus Song Quest, I can’t believe just two years have passed!

Immediately after the 2016 Lexus competition I was on to my next performances, with Days Bay Opera and Auckland Opera Studio, making my debut in the roles of Tebaldo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi and Pilades in Oreste

After two successful performance runs, I flew to New York, then on to London to work with some of the industry’s leading vocal teachers and coaches. Having worked so well together during the Lexus semi-final competition in Wellington two years ago, 2016 Head Lexus Song Quest Judge Yvonne Kenny and I reconnected to build on progress I'd made during our lessons in New Zealand. It was after these lessons I had made the decision to apply for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in hopes of working with Yvonne full-time at her studio. Before the end of the year, I competed in the annual New Zealand Aria competition in Rotorua and was fortunate to be placed runner-up. I also gained a place on both inaugural singing programmes for the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation and the Dame Malvina Major Foundation, both of which held me in good stead going into auditions overseas.

Having worked well together during the Lexus semi-final in Wellington two years ago, 2016 Head Lexus Song Quest Judge Yvonne Kenny and I reconnected to build on the progress I'd made

To kick the New Year off, I was back in London’s mid-winter to audition for the Vocal stream Masters programme. On the merit of that audition, I was invited to try out for the prestigious Opera programme in September 2017, where I gained a place as one of twelve singers. Before moving to London, I performed a second season with Days Bay Opera, this time as Lensky in Eugene Onegin, sang the lead tenor role in Rufus Wainwright’s Opera Prima Donna, performed for China’s Premier Li Keqiang, was the recipient of the Iosefa Enari memorial award, and competed and won the IFAC Australian Singing Competition in Sydney.

Within a week of arriving in the UK, I performed as part of a small ensemble in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by newly appointed Music director, Sir Simon Rattle. This was an opportunity made possible through the Guildhall School and an experience I’ll never forget. 

Within a week of arriving in London, I performed as part of a small ensemble in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by newly appointed Music director, Sir Simon Rattle.

The Guildhall Opera programme is occupied by rehearsals, vocal coaching, vocal lessons, drama, movement, and language coaching. Through the programme ‘Opera Scenes’, I have tackled scenes by a range of composers - from Monteverdi through to Strauss. It is intended to challenge us all and it has done so, which makes the moment of “when you get it” all the more rewarding. I have been able to perform in a few external performances, including my first semi-staged Messiah late last year, performing the fun character role of Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro and most recently making my solo debut at the Barbican Hall singing the tenor lead in Stranvisky’s Pullcinella. In the new academic year I will perform the two roles of Ferrando in Così fan tutte and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Guildhall’s fully staged Opera productions, two roles I look forward to performing.

I have tackled scenes by a range of composers - from Monteverdi through to Strauss. It is intended to challenge us all and it has done so, which makes the moment of “when you get it” all the more rewarding

Filipe Manu at 2016 Lexus Song Quest

Filipe sings at 2016 Lexus Song Quest Finals

As the final semester of my first year at Guildhall kicks off and I reflect on my time in London to date, I am extremely happy with the progress I have made with Yvonne and my progress within the Opera programme. Two years on and I can whole heartedly say that the Lexus Song Quest played an integral part in getting me to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which I am truly thankful for.

Filipe is currently a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Opera programme where he is studying towards his Masters in Music under world renowned soprano and former Lexus Song Quest Judge, Yvonne Kenny.