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The grant will help Gray (24) fund a trip to Italy in June to study at the Cactus Language School in Bologna.
"I can't wait to get over to Italy and soak up the culture.
"I will have to do more fund-raising before then, but the opera society's grant has made all the difference and will help me realise my ultimate goal," he said.
Gray was runner-up in the 2006 Otago Daily Times Aria and graduated from the University of Otago last year with a BCom in economics and a first class honours degree in music, specialising in performance voice under the tutelage of Isabel Cunningham.
Last January, he switched from baritone to tenor, debuting as a tenor in November in Handel's Messiah with the Ars Nova Choir in New Plymouth.
He also completed a year-long internship with New Zealand Opera as a Dame Malvina Major emerging artist, working on La Boheme as understudy to the roles of both Rodolfo and Schaunard and performing the role of the toy-seller, Parpignol.
In August, he performed the lead role of Sir Robin Oakapple/Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd in the Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust production of Ruddygore.
Next year, he will study for a masters of music at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington and has performances scheduled with the Auckland Bach Musica and Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra.
The New Zealand Opera Society was founded in 1953 to promote and encourage young New Zealand opera performers.