Filipe Manu's classical music career is about to take off.
The 21-year-old has been awarded a Freemasons Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist Internship by New Zealand Opera.
Manu, who is originally from Howick, says he discovered classical music in 2010 during his final year at Dilworth School.
"The school was doing free classical lessons and my friend went along and told me I should try it. I was in the choir at the time and decided to give it a ago," Manu says.
He previously enjoyed mainstream music and sang in his church's band.
"I find singing fun and engaging so it was an easy transition, but classical does involve a lot of training. You don't just pick up a note."
The talented Tongan is one of the youngest to ever be selected for the internship.
He will take part in vocal tuition, perform in supporting roles and be in the choir for New Zealand Opera's mainstage activities as part of the internship, which stretches into next year.
He is also studying towards a Bachelor of Music, majoring in classical performance at Waikato University on a Sir Edmund Hilary Scholarship.
The young talent has also won classical singing competitions and hopes to eventually head overseas to complete a masters and make singing a profession.
"I would definitely like to sing as a professional later on.
"Most sportsmen aim to perform at the highest level and it is the same with performers. I want to keep learning as much as possible and get to a higher level."
Manu says many great singers have taken up the internship before him and it will be invaluable.
"It will give me experience I wouldn't be able to get at university and put me in good stead for the near future," he says.
New Zealand Opera says the five successful candidates awarded internships come from around the country.
Manu was chosen through a panel audition and now has the opportunity to work with industry professionals.
"Each of the interns is exposed to a learning environment that places emphasis on practical experience within the professional opera world," New Zealand Opera says.
- Eastern Courier
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