Last night’s Grand Final at the Opera House ended in celebrations as tenor Damien Leith was selected as Australian Idol for 2006.

After a particularly good competition, the final twelve were gradually whittled down to two finalists, Damien Leith and Jessica Mauboy. 30 year old Damien is an Australian Permanent Resident of Irish origin – and accent – and will be eligible for Citizenship in early 2007. Jessica, 17, is of indigenous Australian and Indonesian background.

Both contestants have grown as performers in the course of the competition.

Jessica’s warm personality was always a delight, but an early tendency to sing down her nose has not been entirely eliminated. It’s a big voice with heaps of potential, and it will be interesting to see how it develops in the next year or so; and if she can withstand the rigours of touring. Her page on the official site is at:

Damien’s light lyric tenor was always well suited to ballads, but it was great to watch him develop as he tackled other styles. A highlight for me was the night he sang “Nessun Dorma” – the great tenor aria from Puccini’s “Turandot” – which he sang again in the final. Clearly he had thought about the music between performances, because last night he sang even better. He uses a microphone, to be sure, and the voice is a little light for the role as a whole, but the musicianship could not be doubted. Find more about Damien at:

Last week the winner’s single “The Night of My Life” proved a difficult test for both singers, largely because it was so dead ordinary. Jessica played it straight, and made it, alas, boring – for me, at least. Damien, possibly in desperation, went to the other extreme and decorated it to within an inch of its life, producing an interesting performance of an uninteresting song. It hadn’t improved yesterday. To be fair, writing a song that will suit two such very different singers is no easy task, and it will be a sure-fire hit as everyone rushes to buy the winner’s single on its release today.

For more on the final see:

And for more on both finalists and the competition as a whole, read Luke Dennehy’s Blog at:

Angela Cockburn only blogs here.

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