New Zealand Bass-Baritone James Ioelu completed an undergraduate degree in Music and Psychology at the University of Auckland before moving to New York in 2010 to complete a Master’s in Performance at the Manhattan School of Music. During his studies he performed principal roles in a number of MSM productions; Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Trinity Moses in Kurt Weil’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Louis XVI in John Corigliano’s The Ghost of Versailles, (the first performance of this work in New York since its opening at the Met), and the Knave in Manly Romero’s Dreaming of Wonderland at the Brooklyn Arts Space.
Since completing formal training at Manhattan School of Music, James has split his time between intense professional development – studying with renowned singer and coach Madame Virginia Zeani – and performing a number of roles and concerts in America, Europe, and New Zealand. Most recently, he has benefited from the support of the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa foundation, including some coveted time with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa herself. Highlights include the role of Bruno in Michael Williams’ original work The Juniper Passion, which premiered in Rome, understudying the bass soloist in Haydn’s The Creation with the NZSO, and most recently performing the role of Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor produced by Auckland Opera Studio and accompanied by the Auckland Chamber Orchestra. He will be performing the role of Don Pasquale this year with the Merola opera program in San Francisco as well as joining the National Opera Studio in London in September.
James has received a steady stream of awards ranging from New Zealand Young Performer of the Year and Iosefa Enari Emerging Pacific Artist Award to more recently placing in three of the top Aria competitions in the Southern Hemisphere within the last year, winning the NZAria, as well as taking home the runner-up prize in both the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto competition and the Sydney Eisteddfod Operatic Aria.