Tuesday 9 August 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Nicholas Tolputt – Tribute



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, Tasmania continues to produce brilliant young people in many fields, some of them ending up on the world stage.  Sport immediately comes to mind, with the Rio Olympics at the moment and those fortunate enough to be able to represent Australia.  There have also been many successes in acting, music, singing, writing and so on.  One thing in common with all this young talent is it needs nurturing.  I will come to that shortly.

I will focus on Tasmania's young acclaimed countertenor, Nicholas Tolputt.  He is from Trevallyn in my electorate of Rosevears.  There are plenty of baritones and tenors around, but not many countertenors.  Nick was recently announced as the winner of the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, a very prestigious and competitive presentation.  He distinguished himself with a masterful performance of I Know a Bank from A Midsummer Night's Dream and Handel's Stille Amare from Tolomeo.  The scholarship is worth $43 000 and will give Nick the opportunity to undertake advanced training internationally.  He plans to apply to opera training institutes in Europe.  He is organising now those auditions for Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia and Finland.

I have spoken with Nick and as he puts it, 'Winning the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera scholarship means I can finally start not just planning and wishing my future, but actually making it happen.' 

His singing career started in Launceston in musical theatre, and he was in a lot of productions and performed magnificently.  He then moved to Melbourne.  He actually went as a tenor, and then was advised by his singing coach he had the vocal capability to be a countertenor, and he trained him to sing countertenor.  They take 50 singers a year.  Nick was the first at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in nine years to be able to sing countertenor.

On graduating as a scholar, he was taken on by the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust.  Nick told me of the Melba Trust:

There aren't really too many organisations like the Melba anywhere in the world.  They sort of act as a finishing school for opera, with a program designed to bridge that gap between study and the life as a young professional opera performer.  The program is individually tailored for each scholar and included seminars on finance, insurance, public speaking, performance anxiety, and almost everything you can think of to help you survive in the industry of opera.

For him, the Melba Trust has been a very crucial part of his development.  He has had the opportunity to study and learn from some of the greatest operatic professionals in the world and has slowly begun to identify his own strengths and weaknesses.  It is a tremendous opportunity for Nick Tolputt.  Some of you attended,

and I went to see him at the Hobart Town Hall with the presentation we had here of Baroque.  Subsequently he was taken to Brisbane to perform in the same presentation, and performed magnificently.

His immense talent is the main factor to his success, but his journey to such success would have been much harder, in fact, almost impossible, without the nurturing which I referred to earlier.  He was very appreciative of the great teachers that he has had here in Tasmania and on the mainland, including Andrew Dalton in Sydney.  He acknowledges his sponsors and numerous others who have helped him.  I am part of the support group, the Tasmanian Talent Team, which helps young artists such as Nick.  Other members include the former president of this Chamber, Don Wing; my former assistant, Di Bucknell ; and a member of my constituency, Susie Clarke.  We aim to support young artists who we feel have the potential to perform overseas.  We organise concerts and performances in Launceston so they can show their talents to a wider audience.  All the proceeds go to the young performers.  We also strive to interest sponsors to support them as well.  We have had some success in this nurturing role. 

You might remember Ben Austin, Mr President, who performed at my home when we had the electorate tour of Rosevears many years ago.  Tom Ward is a fantastic guitarist who is now performing on the international stage.  Probably our biggest endeavour was to send four people to the expo in Japan - John De Jong, Di Briffa, Tom Ward and Ben Austin - and they performed superbly.  The Japanese were very interested in the two younger ones, Ben Austin and Tom Ward - they are 15 and 19, respectively - and paid them each $10 000 to come back to perform at the expo with their chaperone, Susie Clarke.  With that money they were able to buy new instruments so it was a great stepping stone for them.  I find the role very satisfying.  If we want young Tasmanians to succeed internationally we must nurture their talent