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Young Artists, 2023

Claudia Mackay,  Soprano

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Recipient of the Pacific Opera Growth Scholarship

Australian Soprano Claudia Mackay is a graduate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. She has received a Master of Music in Opera Performance (2021), a Graduate Diploma in Classical Voice (2019) and a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance (2018). Claudia was awarded ‘The Bud Brown Memorial Scholarship for Merit’ in 2020 & ‘The Forbes Award for Female Singer in the Opera School’ in 2022.


Claudia’s performances include Noémie in Massenet’s ‘Cendrillon’ (SydCon 2020), Tytania in Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (SydCon x NIDA 2021), Muse & Nymph in Cavalli’s ‘Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne’ (Debut with Pinchgut Opera 2021) & Taumännchen in Humperdinck’s ‘Hänsel & Gretel’ (Berlin Opera Academy’s 2022 Opernfest). 


Claudia is thrilled to be a 2023 Young Artist with Pacific Opera and she is particularly excited to perform the role of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She is grateful to be supported by the ‘Pacific Opera Growth Scholarship’ for 2023.

Alexander Caldwell, Tenor

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Recipient of the John Germain Memorial Scholarship (generously provided by the Sydney Savage Club)

Alexander is a young tenor from Sydney having just completed the first year of a Masters in Opera Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Alexander made his role debut in 2021 as Snout in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and has since performed Jupiter (Semele), First Armed Man (Die Zauberflöte) and Sailor (Dido and Aeneas). Concert credits include Schubert’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem, The Crucifixion by John Stainer, Mathan in Handel’s Athalia, Howard Goodall’s Requiem, Charpentier’s Christmas Mass, Durante’s Magnificat, Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor and Bell Piece by Percy Grainger.

Elizabeth Cooper,  Soprano

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Recipient of the Justice Kunc and Felicity Rourke Scholarship

Elizabeth Cooper is thrilled to return to Pacific Opera as a Young Artist for the 2023 season, generously sponsored by Justice Kunc and Felicity Rourke. In the 2022 season with the company Elizabeth performed the roles of Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Suor Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) and Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte). She also has performed with The Cooperative as Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Soprano (Émilie). Elizabeth holds a Master of Music (Operatic Performance) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she performed as Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Dorothée (Cendrillon) and was supported by the Olive Margaret Stewart Bequest. Elizabeth is passionate about Oratorio and has performed as a soloist in a number of works including Handel’s L’allegro, Vivaldi’s Magnficiat and Gloria, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Fauré’s Requiem.

Leon Vitogiannis,  Baritone

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Recipient of the Philip Bacon Scholarship

Leon Vitogiannis is an established classical vocalist and conductor. As a soloist Leon has appeared with Symphony Central Coast, The Other Theatre Co., Opera Carnivale, Sydney Conservatorium Choir, Zhejiang Conservatorium, The Greek Festival of Sydney, Musgrove Opera and private recitals.


Leon is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music having studied classical voice with Mr Andrew Dalton and conducting with Mr George Ellis and Dr John Lynch. He is currently undertaking postgraduate research studies at the University of Sydney and is continuing his vocal studies with Dr David Greco.


Among other musical interests, Leon also has a passion for Greek Music, where he conducts, sings, and performs throughout Sydney. He has a keen interest in researching and performing Classical Greek repertoire, particularly Greek art song.

Ellen Mcneil,  Soprano

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Recipient of the Ian McGaw Scholarship

Ellen has a Master of Music Studies (Opera Performance) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, having studied with Dr Rowena Cowley, and was awarded several scholarships to support her studies. Ellen has performed the title roles of Suor Angelica, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, and Cendrillon. Other roles have included Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Mrs Herring in Albert Herring, Serpetta in La finta giardiniera, Zweite Dame and Zweiter Knabe in Die Zauberflöte, and Le Rossignol in L'enfant et les sortilèges. She is also an experienced musical and theatre performer having appeared as Anna Leonowens in The King and I, Natalia in I am a Camera, Viola in Twelfth Night, and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. 

Yuan Gao, Bass

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Recipient of the Chang Family Scholarship

After completing his degree and moving to Australia, Yuan also founded a music training school for Chinese traditional instrumental music education in Sydney. As an operatic bass, Yuan Gao completed his Master‘s Degree in 2022 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Opera Performance). During his studies, he performed principal roles with the Conservatorium Opera and NIDA, including Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, and John Grainger and Solo Bass in Percy – The Opera. He was supported by Greenberg-Gurney-Jensen Fund Scholarship. He also interned in the Capstone component of Opera Repertoire with Pinchgut Opera. In 2023, Yuan was awarded a position in Pacific Opera’s 2023 Young Artist Program. As part of this program he will perform in Mendelssohn’s Paulus the role of Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville,  Concurrently, Yuan is Young Artist with Opera Queensland’s Young Artist Program for 2023 and most recently has made his company debut in the roles of Servant and First Apparition in Verdi’s Macbeth in the QPAC Concert Hall in March, as well as joining the Opera Queensland Chorus for the production.

Rebecca O'Hanlon, Mezzo-Soprano

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Recipient of the Lorraine Copley Scholarship

Rebecca O’Hanlon, Mezzo Soprano, completed her Bachelor of Music Performance in Classical Voice at the Sydney Conservatorium, studying under Dr. Narelle Yeo in 2020.

In 2018, Rebecca had the honour to perform the Mezzo Soprano solo from Prokofiev’s work ‘Alexander Nevsky’ with the Conservatorium Orchestra and Choirs in Verbrugghen Hall under Maestro Eduardo Diazmuñoz.


Rebecca has been a Young artist with Pacific Opera from 2020-2023, performing the roles of 3rd Lady (Die Zaubeflöte), Cenerentola (Cenerentola), Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia), Florence Pike (Albert Herring), and ‘La zia principessa’ (Suor Angelica). As a part of the program, she was awarded the Paul Bateman OAM Memorial Scholarship to assist with role learning and artistic growth.

Andrew Knight, Baritone

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Recipient of the Philip Bacon Scholarship 

Australian-Malaysian Baritone, Andrew Taylor Knight is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music - Master of Music (Opera Performance). 


Since moving to Sydney, he was the recipient of the Lorraine Copley Young Artist Scholarship, Greenberg Gurney-Jensen Fund, Patricia Bell Grant Scholarship, The John Holt Todd and Florence Todd Scholarship, St. Andrew’s College Vocal Scholarship and Country Education Fund Scholarship.


Most recently, Andrew has seen success in his debut as “Sid” in Pacific Opera’s Albert Herring, “Sprecher” in the Sydney Conservatorium’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.


Future engagements include “Silvio” in The Cooperative’s take on Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and commitments as a young artist in the 2023 Pacific Opera program.

Olivia Swain,  Soprano

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Recipient of the Jane Mathews AO Scholarship (generously provided by the Wagner Society NSW)

Olivia Swain is a young Australian soprano, recently graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Masters of Music Studies (Opera Performance), under the guidance of Dr. Rowena Cowley. Olivia’s passion for singing was initially fostered by choral singing in St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, Sydney, and was confirmed by seeing her first opera, Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly. Many performances and recitals during her Bachelor of Music (Performance) at SCM culminated in solo performances on tour at Zhejiang Conservatory in China under the Global Mobility Scholarship at SCM. Recent performances include a trip to Sicily, Italy to perform the role of Mimì in the Meditteranean Opera Studio and Festival’s production of La Bohème, and the opportunity to perform the role of Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s production of The Magic Flute.

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