Te Kōkī the New Zealand School of Music describes it as a tale of pirates and plunder, flame and blood, true love and impatient passion, in a true operatic tradition where all does not end well…

This July, the school presents a four-performance season of Verdi’s Il Corsaro. Il Corsaro follows the tragic tale of a noble and heroic pirate captain, Corrado, who is forced to leave his true love in order to battle the Turkish Pasha Seid and attempt to rescue the harem of slaves.

Performed for the first time in New Zealand and sung in its traditional Italian form, the three act opera celebrating the 200th anniversary of Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, stars some of New Zealand’s emerging opera stars.

Christian Thurston, a 22-year-old who in his 3rd year at the school. is playing a lead role as the villainous Pasha Seid.

Christian says he initially never had any intention of pursuing a career in opera, but decided that music would be an interesting subject to study.

“I thought I’d give it a go and haven’t looked back since,” he says.

Il Corsaro is directed by well-known director, Sara Brodie, and conducted by Kenneth Young.

It is the second time Christian has worked with conductor Young, a man he finds “incredibly easy to work with and extremely helpful”.

Brodie too is great to work with – “an amazing director who pays a great attention to the smaller detail”.

Isabella Moore, a 22-year-old recent graduate playing her first prima donna role as Gulnara, Pasha Seid’s favourite slave girl, says she discovered her passion for opera almost by mistake”.

“I missed the application date for the University of Auckland ELAM School of Fine Arts and my parents convinced me to audition for The School of Music instead.

“I now have no doubt in my mind that I am meant to sing opera,” the emerging Kiwi soprano says before adding enthusiastically:

“I can’t wait to perform the role of Gulnara!”

While Gulnara is her first major performing role, Isabella has had plenty of experience in classical singing. Her career highlight so far is a toss-up between winning the 2013 Becroft Grand Opera aria and receiving the Iosefa Enari Memorial Award at the Creative NZ Arts Pasifika award ceremony in 2012.

“I have a feeling that after the opera in July, if you asked me what would the highlight of my career so far, being able to sing the role of Gulnara in Il Corsaro would be at the top of the list,” she says.

Isabella advises aspiring student musicians to “go for it. No doubts and no regrets”.

Many of the cast and young opera stars hope to one day sing on an international stage. Isabella’s dream is to sing at the Metropolitan opera.

“It’s a big dream, but I know if I put in the hard work and stay focused I could get there one day,”

she says.

There is no doubt these young Kiwi stars have long and bright futures ahead of them and, although their journeys may be long ones, they are singing their way to stardom – one note at a time.

Il Coraro will be performed between Friday July 26-Tuesday July 30 at The Opera House in Wellington.

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketek.

For more information on the performance visit

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