The Wesfarmers Arts Young Artists for 2024. Image by Alana Blowfield.

Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program 2024

The Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program is committed to nurturing the next generation of opera talent.

The 2024 Young Artists are Jessica Blunt (soprano), Benjamin Del Borrello (baritone), Ruth Burke (mezzo-soprano), Kohsei Gilkes (tenor), and Brett Peart (baritone).

The Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program offers coaching, masterclasses, and performance opportunities to develop technical skills and stagecraft. The support of Wesfarmers Arts and the Bendat Family Foundation, who support the Bendat Scholarship, has seen graduates build successful careers on opera stages locally, nationally, and internationally.

Jessica Blunt

Soprano Jessica Blunt is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, London (MA Performance and hon. DipRAM) and Sydney Conservatorium of Music (MMus Opera Performance). In London, Jessica sang with English National Opera at the London Coliseum, and was a Tait Memorial Trust scholar in 2021 & 2022. In 2022, Jessica sang for the Stimme, Leib und Seele (SLS) program in Salzburg, Austria. Following this, she was invited to coach with repetiteur Jendrik Springer at the Vienna State Opera in 2022 & 2023. Operatic highlights include: Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (CONTESSA) at the 2018 Mediterranean Opera Studio & Festival in Sicily; Don Giovanni (DONNA ELVIRA) and La finta giardiniera (ARMINDA) with ConOpera and Die Zauberflöte (FIRST LADY) at the 2019 Manhattan Opera Studio, New York, where she also performed as a soloist in Carnegie Hall. Jessica was soprano soloist for Handel’s Messiah at Sydney Town Hall in 2019 and has sung in the chorus with Opera Australia and West Australian Opera. Jessica is grateful to participate in West Australian Opera's Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program in 2024.

Benjamin Del Borrello

West Australian baritone Benjamin Del Borrello holds a Bachelor of Music (Classical Vocal: Performance) from The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). Graduating in 2022, Benjamin was awarded the Rogers and Thick Award for 2023 through Freeze Frame Opera with whom he was then engaged in his first professional role as Figaro in Rapunzel (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Freeze Frame Opera 2023. Other roles include Quinault Adriana Lecouvreur FFO 2023, Father (Peter) Hansel and Gretel, WAAPA 2022, and John Styx Orpheus in the Underworld, WAAPA 2020. Benjamin will have his concert debut in 2023 as the Baritone Soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Darwin Symphony Orchestra. Benjamin has also been a semi-finalist in the IFAC HANDA Australian Singing Competition 2023 and achieved 2nd Place in the Fremantle Eisteddfod Open Aria 2023. Benjamin's passion for music came from his Italian family, where he often heard folk tunes and Canzoni Napoletane at family gatherings. Benjamin is extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s 2024 West Australian Opera Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program alongside his artistic colleagues.

Ruth Burke

Ruth Burke is an Irish-Australian mezzo-soprano. Ruth studied at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts graduating with a Bachelor of Classical Music (Vocal Performance) in 2022. As a young artist with Freeze Frame Opera, Ruth has performed the roles of Rosina in Barber of Seville (Rapunzel), Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, La Badessa, La Zelatrice and La Ciesca in the double bill production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi and Dangeville in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur (2023). While at WAAPA Ruth performed the roles of Hansel, and Public Opinion in Orpheus In The Underworld. Ruth’s awards have included 1st in the 2022 Opera Lovers Aria Prize, 1st in the 2022 ROSL Art Song Prize, 1st in the ROSL Winifred Hurford Award, and 1st in the 2021 Fremantle Eisteddfod. Ruth was also the recipient of the 2022 Dame Mary Gilmore Award and 2022 ECU WAAPA Excellence Scholarship. Ruth is grateful to participate in West Australian Opera's Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program in 2024.

Kohsei Gilkes

Kohsei Gilkes is a half-Japanese, half-Australian tenor born and raised in Perth. Kohsei is currently training under the tutelage of Michael Lewis whom he has been working with since he was accepted into WAAPA in 2018. During his time at WAAPA, Kohsei performed roles such as “Mars” from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and “the Pirate King” from Guilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Kohsei made his professional debut in 2021 after 4 years of study and continues to work with West Australian Opera. Having transitioned from baritone to tenor in 2023, Kohsei debuted his first tenor role “L’Abate di Chazeuil” from Adriana Lecouvre with Freeze Frame Opera. Kohsei hopes to springboard his career through the YAP program and aspires to continue his career abroad. Kohsei is grateful to participate in West Australian Opera's Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program in 2024.

Brett Peart

Brett Peart is an emerging Western Australian operatic baritone whom Seesaw magazine describes as being “especially successful in getting into his vocal stride” and having a “stentorian baritone voice”. He holds a Bachelor of Music majoring in classical vocal performance from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Valuing versatility, Peart has also trained in both contemporary music performance and musical theatre. Brett has shared stage and scene with Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Rosario la Spina, Paul O’Neill and José Carbó. Peart regularly performs with West Australian Opera and Freeze Frame Opera. In July, Brett joined the principal cast of WAO’s Otello as the dutiful Montano. August saw Peart perform as the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana for UWACS at Perth Concert Hall as well as The Prince in Freeze Frame Opera’s The Princess and the Showgirl (Adriana Lecouvreur). In October, Brett portrayed the landlord Benoit in West Australian Opera’s La bohème. Brett is grateful to participate in West Australian Opera's Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program in 2024.