14 Sep 2023

Hawkes Bay tenor brings the magic back home

From Three to Seven, 4:00 pm on 14 September 2023
Tenor Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono

Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono Photo: NZSO

Hastings tenor Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono is returning to the Bay, singing the role of Tamino in a special NZSO concert performance of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute'. 

Things haven't gone exactly as planned for the production, which has been three years in the making.

First Covid got in the way, then Cyclone Gabrielle.

Still, those delays mean the boy from Flaxmere – one of four singing siblings – has even more awards under his belt: he's just won the IFAC Handa Australian Singing Competition. That's on top of his finalist spot in last year's Lexus Song Quest, becoming (with Katherine Winitana) the joint winner of the inaugural Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition and taking home the 2023 Sydney Eisteddfod John Lamble Foundation Opera Scholarship.

And earlier this year, Emmanuel stepped in with less than five hours' notice to sing Alfredo in Wellington Opera's production of 'La Traviata' by Verdi. 

RNZ Concert's David Morriss asked Emmanuel how he handled the nerves of having to take on such a big role without much warning, but the tenor says he already knew the part inside out.

"Preparation is the biggest thing, but of course you're going to be nervous even if you've prepared extremely well. That is where I kind of psyche myself up, I have to positively tell myself I'm gonna do well, and it works. It may sound silly to some people, but you need that, you have to be strong for this profession. I'll say a little prayer, and just have some quiet time to myself to do that and focus in".  

Emmanuel is "super excited" to finally perform The Magic Flute in Napier, in a concert that will double as a fundraising event for Hawke’s Bay’s Festival Opera. The good news is tonight's show is almost sold out and there are no storms on the horizon.

"Third time's a charm, so now is our time," he says.

Here's a clip of Emmanuel singing the big duet from Puccini's La Bohème with another brilliant young singer, and joint winner of the Inaugural Nicholas Tarling Aria Competition, Katherine Winitana, with the Manukau Symphony Orchestra.