Oliver Sewell Wins Dame Malvina Major Award

Oliver Sewell Wins Dame Malvina Major Award

Ōtautahi tenor Oliver Sewell has been announced winner of the $50,000 Dame Malvina Major Award, at what he says is a “critical junction” in his singing career.

The singer recently took out first place in the Vincerò Worldwide Opera Competition in Naples, competing against more than 30 finalists from five continents in front of an international panel of judges. The award funded his trip to Italy for that competition and will support his return to Europe next year to re-establish himself on the international stage.

“Buoyed by the financial support and the huge vote of confidence, this award is the difference in keeping my dream alive,” says Sewell. “There is only so much time I can take out from my performing schedule to be available for auditions and competitions overseas. An award like this allows me to take the time off without worrying whether I can afford to keep following this dream.”

Dame Malvina says his hard work, diligence, integrity and assistance to younger singers has proved he really understands his voice and craft.

“He has great musicianship and beautiful vocal ease to access the top notes. It is such a pleasure to send him on the next part of his journey knowing he has all the ingredients to become a super opera tenor.”

Born and raised in Christchurch, Sewell was a Dame Malvina Major Foundation Emerging Artist with NZ Opera in 2013-14 before moving to New York to complete a Master’s at the Manhattan School of Music. He was a Resident Artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia from 2017-2020.

Having been (Covid) stuck in NZ for the last two years Sewell says this award couldn’t come at a better time when he truly feels he has something to offer the opera world and needs to get back overseas and reintegrate himself.

“Winning this award is an absolute superlative.”