Tongan tenor back from New York picked for place in prestigious Lexus music competition

Tongan tenor Manase Latu has been selected as a semi-finalist in Aotearoa’s premier opera singing competition, the 2024 Lexus Song Quest.

Of these 10 semi-finalists, one is Auckland based Tongan tenor Manase Latu who has recently completed the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera.  2018 Finalist in Lexus Song Quest. Photo/Supplied

Latu is a graduate of Auckland University and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. He was supported as an Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera as well as the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.

He has just completed the Lindemann Young Artist Development  Programme at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

He was the first singer of Tongan heritage – and one of just two from New Zealand – to join the programme.

During the summer of 2022, Latu was selected as a Renee Fleming Artist for The Aspen Music Festival and School where he performed Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni under the baton of Dame Jane Glover.

Latu was selected as one of 10 semi-finalists from a pool of 29 applicants by preliminary judges Andrea Creighton and Peter Lockwood.

He was a finalist in the  2018 Lexus Song Quest.

Latu and the other semi-finalists will perform for head judge, Grammy Award-winning South Korean lyric coloratura soprano Sumi Jo on July 27-28 at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington.

She will select the five finalists who will perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Grand Final Gala at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington on August 3.

Latu was born in New Zealand, but spent his early childhood in Tonga surrounded by church music and traditional Tongan music. After returning to Auckland he was educated at St Kentigern’s. He joined the high school choir in 2011.

He said his passion or music was driven by his love for music and the opportunity to represent his family, his country and his motherland on the international platform.

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