Honouring an extraordinary woman

The Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholarship is a cornerstone of Melba Opera Trust’s program. It has provided precious support to 27 gifted young singers thanks to the vibrant community of more than 400 supporters who make the scholarship possible. Over the past two years, there have been two major celebrations associated with the scholarship.

In July 2018 a huge crowd gathered at South Melbourne Town Hall for a concert in honour of Mary-Jane Joscelyne OAM, Amelia’s mother and Founding Patron of Melba Opera Trust. Siobhan Stagg, an Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholar from 2009-12, has long had a close relationship with Mary-Jane, and she wanted to integrate somehow this much-loved woman into her performance. “Mary-Jane beamed the whole way through,” Siobhan recalled. “It was the perfect example of Mary-Jane’s generosity of spirit and quest to share joy with those around her.”

Siobhan was one of many celebrating Mary-Jane and the legacy of Amelia’s scholarship including fellow alumna Fiona Jopson (2010) and the 2018 recipient Paull-Anthony Keightley with scholar Adam McMillan.

This year, the community again gathered to mark the Amelia’s 30-year anniversary. It was an evening of sentiment and memories showcasing a short video encapsulating the journey of the scholarship and heartfelt words from alumni who are now carrying forward their careers around the world. Superb performances were delivered from Amelia alumni Bronwyn Douglass, Morgan Balfour, Fiona Jopson and fellow Melba alumni Brenton Spiteri and Amir Farid.

2019 Scholars

Georgina Hall


Harold Blair Opera Scholarship and Ruskin Opera Scholarship

Working with Teresa Desmarchelier, I have made great strides in French and Italian language. This year, a performance highlight was singing in the Kaurna language aboard the Cunard Queen Elizabeth with the Australian Dance Theatre. Next year, I am thrilled to be contracted to perform all over Italy and Switzerland, an engagement made possible through connections I have made in my two years with Melba.

Tessa Hayward


Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship, Annie McFarling Opera Scholarship and Patrick & Vivian Gordon Award

It’s been a wonderfully insightful and rewarding year with the Melba program. The privilege of working with such incredible mentors, conductors, singers and coaches has been invaluable and I have learnt so much. I particularly loved working on some challenging ensemble repertoire with renowned conductor, Johannes Fritzsch. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity it has provided to focus on certain areas of my art with more language, musical, acting and performance experience. I have challenged myself with new repertoire and roles which I plan on performing in concerts, competitions and auditions.

Stephen Marsh

STEPHEN MARSH – baritone

Paulette Bisley Opera Scholarship and Eleanor Blakemore Opera Society Scholarship

This year I have had some fantastic opportunities to grow. I have been part of several productions such as ParsifalAlice Through the Opera Glass and the Heroic Bel Canto gala concert, alongside artists such as Peter Rose, Jessica Pratt and Daniela Barcellona. The highlight of the year for me was the latest production I took part in which was The Selfish Giant with Victorian Opera in October. I will also be venturing to Europe in December to undertake auditions and explore the international operatic arena.

Cleo Lee-McGowan


Joseph Sambrook Opera Scholarship

This year I was thrilled to make my debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as Niece 2 in Peter Grimes, singing alongside Melba mentors Stuart Skelton and Deborah Humble. I am looking forward to joining the SSO again in their 2020 season as a soloist in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. In July, I was honoured to have been named the winner of the Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, and a prizewinner in the finals of the JSRB Bel Canto Award with Melba alumni Zoe Drummond and Damian Arnold. I am excited to have just relocated to London to commence my studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Adam McMillan

ADAM MCMILLAN – repetiteur

Margaret Schofield Opera Scholarship and Mel & Nina Waters Award

This year I have gained experience working professionally in a number of projects. I had the pleasure of working as repetiteur and orchestral keyboardist for Victorian Opera’s Alice Through the Opera Glass and Stonnington’s La bohème. I have also continued to work with Opera Scholars Australia throughout the year. I enjoyed travelling to Adelaide in September to compete for the Geoffrey Parsons Award for collaborative pianists. All of these professional endeavours have been possible as a result of my training with the mentors at Melba Opera Trust.

Samuel Piper

SAMUEL PIPER– baritone

John & Elizabeth Wright-Smith Scholarship and Ryman Healthcare Opera Scholarship

This year, like any other, has offered a great range of professional challenges and opportunities. Most recently, I performed with Victorian Opera for the first time in their Heroic Bel Canto gala concert at Hamer Hall. I’m excited to have just relocated to Italy, where I am undertaking an intensive, yearlong study of core Italian baritone repertoire and the Italian language. I would also like to extend my deepest thanks to John and Liz for their ongoing support these past three years and to all at Melba Opera Trust for their tireless work in supporting our career development.

Xenia Puskarz Thomas

XENIA PUSKARZ THOMAS – mezzo-soprano

Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholarship

This year I have been working on stagecraft, singing, languages and business skills. Through the mentor blocks, the Melba program has really challenged me in all of these areas and particularly inspired me to raise the expectations of my work and my capabilities. I have been preparing four full roles for my impending New York trip, through the Opera Foundation for young Australians Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship. In addition, I have just performed the role of Ramiro from Mozart’s La finta giardiniera under the baton of Melba mentor Johannes Fritzsch.


Amy Black appointed as CEO and Director of the Board.

Olivia Giglia appointed as Director of Operations and Company Secretary

Sharolyn Kimmorley AM appointed as Artistic Manager & Scholar Advisor

Melba Opera Trust moved to new home in the Melbourne Arts Precinct.

The articles contained within this page were curated and compiled from previous editions of Melba Opera Trust publications da capo and The Melba.