Queensland Conservatorium opera alumni Kiandra Howarth and Petah Chapman have won two of Australia’s most prestigious prizes – the Bel Canto Award and a Churchill Fellowship.

Spreading her wings on the world stage

Soprano Kiandra Howarth took out this year’s $30,000 Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award. She also received the $1000 Audience Choice Prize and placed third in the Elizabeth Connell Prize for Aspiring Dramatic Sopranos, winning an additional $5,000.

The Queensland Conservatorium graduate was the first finalist to participate in both competitions, wowing the judges with a selection of arias by Mozart, Handel and Verdi.

She will use the prize money to undertake further studies in London, where she has been based for the past seven years.

“It will be fantastic to continue the journey I started back at the Con,” she said.

The power and the passion

Kiandra’s passion for opera was ignited at young age.

“I think I was nine or ten when I saw a production of Tosca and I remember turning to my Mum and saying that’s what I want to do!”

Kiandra completed a Bachelor of Music in 2010. She worked with Opera Queensland and Opera Australia before winning a place at Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme.

The 29-year-old Gold Coast soprano has since forged a glittering international career, performing with the world’s great opera houses and orchestras.

Building a foundation at the Con

Petah Chapman grew up surrounded by music. Her Dad played lead guitar in a rock band and she got her start as a singer-songwriter before winning a place at the Queensland Conservatorium to study opera.

“I had an upbringing playing the violin and guitar, steeped in rock, folk and blues, but I was naturally musical and had a good ear, which really stood me in good stead when I joined the Con,” she said.

“I just fell in love with opera.”

The young soprano graduated with a Bachelor of Music in 2015, leads her own touring ensemble and has just signed a deal with Stradivarius Records in Milan.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience

Petah said the Churchill Fellowship provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and study in London.

“The Royal Opera House attracts the world’s greatest singers and the best teachers and conductors. It will be an unbelievable experience,” she said.

“As a young singer, this will allow me to continue to improve as a performer and build my professional networks in Europe.”

Learn more about studying opera at Queensland Conservatorium.