WIAV graduates celebrate the strong women of opera


Students from UWTSD’s Wales International Academy of Voice have performed in a gala concert with Mid-Wales Opera that celebrated the roles of strong women in opera.

Institute of Directors

Joelene Griffiths and Monique Simone have recently graduated from the Academy in Cardiff, where they have received expert tutelage from Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill CBE. They appeared in a special gala concert at Gregynog Hall near Newtown that celebrated powerful women in opera. The programme was curated by Charlotte Forrest and featured highlights from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Bizet's Carmen and many more.

Joelene said: "It was such a pleasure to sing with this respected company in such a stunning location!"

Monique said: “It was a privilege and empowering experience to perform with two other strong and talented females in the Mid Wales Opera's ‘powerful women’ concert.”

Joelene holds a Master of Philosophy from The University of Newcastle Australia where she studied thanks to a full Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship. She has sung with the Newcastle University Chamber Choir and has been a young artist with Pacific Opera, Australia.

Joelene’s operatic roles include Cherubino--The Marriage of Figaro, Alms Sister—Suor Angelica, Belinda--Dido and Aeneas, The Queen of the Night—The Magic Flute, Fiordiligi-Cosi fan Tutte and Amina-La Sonnambula. Joelene’s oratorio performances include Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel's Messiah and Bach's Christmas Oratorio.

Headshot of Monique

Monique Simone is an Australian/German Mezzo-soprano. She received a full scholarship to study classical voice at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS), Melbourne. During her time at VCASS Monique understudied the role of Dido (Dido and Aeneas), and performed as a soloist at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Federation Square and the Melbourne Arts Centre. 

Monique completed her Bachelor of Music at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), graduating with High Distinction for her final recital. Whilst at WAAPA, she performed the roles of Galatea (Acis and Galatea) and Hippolyta (A Mid-Summer Nights Dream) under the baton of Richard Gill. Monique was a participant in the WAAPA International Art Song Academy, where she worked with Dr. Graham Johnson OBE and Mary King and was selected as a soloist performing with Graham Johnson in the Academy’s Gala Concert at Government House Ballroom. 

Recent career highlights include performing at Mark Coughlan's NYE Vienna Pops Concert at the Perth Concert Hall, and bringing Opera to remote communities in Broome and Derby as a soloist in Opera Under the Stars. Notable awards Monique has received include the North of Perth Music Festival’s Most Outstanding Senior Vocalist and Perth’s Royal Overseas League Award for Young Singers. In 2017, she enjoyed working with the West Australian Opera chorus in Tosca and The Merry Widow.

Founded by the internationally renowned tenor Dennis O’Neill, and now part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the Wales International Academy of Voice offers young artists a highly specialised and unique environment in which they can work with some of the best vocal technicians, coaches, visiting eminent conductors and international stars from the operatic world. It is a world-leading educational institute that prepares emerging artists for the ever changing pace of the operatic performance industry.

In 2017, the Academy launched its first undergraduate programme. The BA Vocal Studies course is an intensive two year programme that is industry led and vocational. It is designed to prepare young singers for further professional training by equipping them with vocal training, language skills, musicianship, stagecraft, and the vocational skills they will need to build a career in the industry. 

Further Information

For further information, please email: press@uwtsd.ac.uk