Homecoming: New York-based Kiwi opera singer Emily Mwila returns to Queenstown. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


A New York-based Kiwi opera singer, ‘discovered’ while busking in Queenstown, returns tonight for a one-off performance during a month-long break in New Zealand.

Emily Mwila is singing at Thomas Brown Gallery, after her memorable first appearance there in 2018.

Latterly, the 30-year-old soprano’s been singing in the chorus of George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess at New York City’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera, after  graduating from that city’s Mannes School of Music.

Much of her education there was paid by an Aussie opera fan who spotted then Wellington-based Mwila when she was busking in Queenstown in 2015.

That chance encounter ‘‘changed my life,’’ Mwila, who has a Kiwi mum and a Zambian dad, says.

‘‘I couldn’t have done the things I’ve done without that, so it’s become a very special,
meaningful place for me.’’

An extra link is with her great-uncle, former pharmacist Geoff Bradley, who’s lived in Queenstown for 50 years.

Going places: Emily Mwila outside the Met opera company’s HQ in New York. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

For tonight’s’s concert, ‘Homecoming’, only confirmed after she got an MIQ slot in Christchurch last month, Mwila’s performing non-English art songs and arias in the first half and American art songs and arias in the second half, in homage to ‘‘the place where I launched my career’’.

Also on the bill is award-winning Christchurch baritone Timothy Burrell, who’s appearing as a solo artist and in a duet with Mwila, while the accompanist is Auckland-based collaborative pianist Moira Pascoe.

Tickets for the concert, at 568 Speargrass Flat Road, starting 7.30pm, are $70 via