First Nations opera alumnus Nina Korbe is spreading her wings with a postgraduate scholarship at the renowned Royal Academy of Music in London that will prepare her for a career with the world’s top companies.

Opera graduate Nina Korbe

The soprano has been joined at the Royal Academy of Music by fellow Queensland Conservatorium opera graduates Phillip Costovski and Cassandra Wright.

“We have a nice little Con community over here,” she said.

“I auditioned last year in Sydney, received an offer on the spot and they fast-tracked everything.

“It’s been a whirlwind.”

Nina is a proud Goa-Gungarri Wakka Wakka woman who comes from Australian performing royalty – her aunt Leah Purcell is one of Australia’s most celebrated actresses and writers.

However, Nina said it took her time to come to terms with her identity as an Indigenous performer.

“When I was younger, I didn’t necessarily want to be labelled as an Indigenous opera singer,” she said.

“Griffith was such a supportive environment, and I feel now I can offer a new perspective on the artform.

“I’ve seen that there is room for Indigenous voices in the opera world, and I’m excited to combine my Indigenous heritage with a very traditional artform.”

Nina’s dream is to be selected for one of the Young Artist programs run by the world’s most prestigious opera companies, following in the footsteps of fellow Queensland Conservatorium opera alumni like Kiandra Howarth and Samuel Johnson at the Royal Opera in London and Kang Wang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

“The opera program at the Con has an amazing track record.

“We have alumni working with the best opera companies around the world – it’s inspiring.”

Nina’s passion for music was ignited during her early years. At just five years old, she was singing in the chorus of Opera Australia as part of its regional scholarship program. Soon after, the talented singer set her sights on the Queensland Conservatorium.

“I grew up surrounded by music, and I was one of the lucky ones, I always had a strong sense of direction,” she said.

“I made up my mind to study at the Con when I was about 10 years old.

“I was always singing – pop, musical theatre – then I settled on opera in high school.”

Nina in the Queensland Conservatorium production of La Finta Giardiniera in 2019.

At the Queensland Conservatorium, Nina was mentored by Associate Professor Margaret Schindler, who has overseen the singing careers of some of the country’s best and brightest young opera stars.

“I was so, so lucky to be taught by the best in the business,” Nina said.

“We also received so many opportunities at the Con – you just can’t top it.”

Nina is the recipient of an ABRSM International Postgraduate Scholarship, an International Student House Residential Scholarship, a Lord Mayors’ Young and Emerging Artists Fellowship and a grant from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust.