Star rising in London
New Zealander Madeleine Pierard, 29, won the 25 Lexus Song Quest and as a result spent four years at London’s Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio, taking up a two-year contract lyric soprano on the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Scheme in order to complete her studies. “I still can’t quite believe my luck. All this incredible coaching, plus the chance to sing alongside the great stars,” Pierard says. With its nine practising musicians, Pierard’s family is New Zealand’s answer to the von Trapps. “I was the one who almost got away — I had a scientific bent at school and started studying medicine. But music soon drew me back, and it’s changed me as a person. I’ve always been very quiet and serious. But now I sing, I feel I’ve blossomed.” Pierard sings the Sandman in ‘Hansel and Gretel’ at London’s Royal Opera House December 23 through January 7.