Deborah Wai Kapohe

Deborah Wai Kapohe

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

Voice Studio

Hine e HIne – Sung in New Zealand Māori (Te Reo)
Donizetti Ah, tardai troppo and O luce di quest’anima

Deborah Wai Kapohe


Te Ātihaunui-ā-Papārangi

M.Mus(Dis)(Otago), BA(Auckland), BMus(Auckland), LRSM(Classical Guitar) and LLB(Hons)(Sydney).

Born in Southland, Deborah has performed in operas, musicals, contemporary Māori music, arts festivals, proms, concerts, recitals, self-accompanied guitar and voice recitals and special events throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as in the UK, China, Hong Kong, Rarotonga, Papua New Guinea and South Africa.

Deborah was fortunate to study voice with the late Beatrice Webster, who was a pupil of Lucie Manèn. After studying with Mrs Webster, Deborah studied for a year with the Young Artists Program of Opera Australia in 1994. Twelve years later, Deborah refreshed her voice with a Masters of Music in 2006 at the University of Otago under the supervision of Ms Cunningham (also a pupil of Mrs Webster) and Professor Terence Dennis.


Deborah’s traditional operatic roles include Pamina in The Magic Flute, Mimi in La Boheme, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Sophie in Massenet’s Werther, Adalgisa in Norma, Nannetta in Falstaff, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Leila in The Pearl Fishers, Marguerite in Faust and Carmen.

“There were no redeeming features about a creature like Carmen apart from the accolades that Deborah Wai Kapohe should take for portraying the role in such a fearful fashion” Opera-Opera,2006.

Deborah’s Premiere Opera performances include Outrageous Fortune by New Zealand composer Gillian Whitehead; Wide Sargasso Sea and Gauguin for Chamber Made in Australia; Grandma’s Shoes, a joint production between Opera Australia and Theatre of Image in Sydney, Jan 2000, Matthew Suttor’s Opera Trial of the Cannibal Dog at the 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival and the role of Te Rai in NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of Hōhepa at the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival.

“Deborah Wai Kapohe gave the outstanding performance of the evening, giving point to every entry and action she had” Review of Trial of the Cannibal Dog, New Zealand Listener, 2008.

“Deborah Wai Kapohe as Te Rai is simply luminous” Review of Hōhepa, Michael Gilchrist – TheatreView, 2012.

Special events include singing for The Duke of Edinburgh World Fellows at St James Palace, Cathcart Spring proms at the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney and Beijing Olympic Arts Festivals, Anthems for the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns in New Zealand and Australia and for Royalty at Huka Lodge.

In 2010 Deborah graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours at the University of Sydney Law School in Sydney, Australia. Meanwhile, she continued her singing by performing in Beijing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and as part of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cultural Diplomacy International Programme in Beijing and Hangzhou, 2008, as well as events in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and concert work with the Southern Sinfonia, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

From 2012 until 2018, Deborah returned to her ancestral home of Whanganui to work as the Arts Adviser for the Whanganui District Council. During this time, she developed her arts management skills for events, funding and facilitating multi-discipline cross collaboration as well as performing with the New Zealand Opera School, concert and event work and developing her self-accompanied recitals through the study of historic guitars.

In 2019, she completed the New Zealand Legal Practice Examination and the Legal Professional Studies Certificate.

In 2020, Deborah decided to return to singing, focussing on developing her skills in the Old Italian Method. She is now beginning a new career as a singing teacher.

Deborah now lives between Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Western Cape of South Africa.

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