Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The naming sponsor calls

As Barry and Kati Colman stepped from a super new Lexus at the NBR New Zealand Opera’s HQ in Auckland Barry apologised for being 15 minutes late and quipped ‘Its only taken you one year and 15 minutes to get us here’. But we were delighted to show them our new (well nearly new) offices at 100 Mayoral Drive in Auckland and have a good discussion about the opera company, where we are now, the way ahead and future productions. Over the years, since 2000, the names New Zealand Opera Company and the NBR have become synonymous and we believe a very good synergy too. Wherever you see the opera company you’ll see the NBR even on the other side of the world. Next trip for Barry and Kati is the Onehunga Technical Centre.

By the way those of you who have the Italian Girl programme, do read Barry’s foreword. It’s delightful.

See you at the opera.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One goes and another comes

The excellent vocal progress achieved by Wade Kernot in recent times shows great promise for the future. Wade achieved great success on Thursday 23rd in gaining second place in the Lexus and his time as Young Artist with the NBR New Zealand Opera has helped consolidate his progress. Now he goes to the other side of the world to Germany to develop his career and we wish him the very best of good success.

And now our lovely mezzo Kristen Darragh joins us as the Young Artist for 2009. We welcome Kristen warmly and we know that her lovely voice will enrich us all just as it did at the New Zealand Opera School in Wanganui in January and as she did as a Lexus finalist and on Friday night in a joint concert with Wade at the marvellous home of Jenny Gibbs.

By the by it was great to see Margaret and John Hunn, Tim and Lorraine Olphert and Patricia Hurley from Wellington at Jenny’s home on Friday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Singing For Supper

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s new ‘Supper Club’ launched its first soiree to its newest members and guests on Tuesday 21st April at Mollies in St Mary’s Bay. The club is directed towards the business communities as another fund raising initiative for the company.

A lovely occasion hosted by Aidan Lang with great singing of excerpts from the Italian Girl by Conal Coad and Katherine Wiles and with introductions from our Music Director Wyn Davies (also included was an aria – Una voce poco fa – from The Barber of Seville, slipped in to further demonstrate Rossini’s style of music). All this while 80 guests drank our generous sponsor Sileni wines and supped on tasty morsels from Mollies fine chefs. And to top it all off, a range of attractive items were auctioned by Christopher Devereaux (arguably Auckland’s top auctioneer), raising $11,300 for the opera company’s funds. Well done everyone and warm appreciation to Maryanne Mummery who organised the evening and to our staff who assisted with ‘logistics’.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Scots wahae!

Excitement mounts as we welcome back Alex Reedijk, now General Director of Scottish Opera. We are of course doing Italian Girl as a joint production with them. Alex arrives on May 4th.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exciting Lexus (both the Car and the Song Quest)

And the winner of the 2009 Lexus Song Quest is: Aivale Cole

Second place: Wade Kernot
Third place: Julia Booth

Let us Lexus!

The excitement is mounting!

On Thursday evening six of our young artists will exercise their vocal prowess before the distinguished German tenor Siegfried Jerusalem, in Auckland's Town Hall. (I recall seeing him in Die Walküre in the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires some years ago.)

The finalists are:
  • Wade Kernot
  • Aivale Cole
  • Kristen Darragh
  • Andrew Glover
  • Julia Booth
  • Polly Ott
The MC for the evening will be Aidan Lang

All but Aivale have been, or in the case of Polly, will be, PwC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists with the NBR New Zealand Opera and again all but Aivale have attended the New Zealand Opera School in Wanganui under the guidance of Paul Farrington, Margaret Medlyn, Barry Mora and Richard Greager. Aivale has sung with New Zealand Opera and is a fine performer.

This will be a great evening and I wish all contestants a very happy and enjoyable evening. They will all shine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Attention, all pipe organ lovers!

Hello all you pipe organ lovers who have looked at my blog. Here is a nice historic organ for you to view (photo by Arie Hoeflak). It is dated 1894, with some 6 additional stops which date back to around 1971, the adding of which I was closely involved with. It now has 25 speaking stops and is a very fine two manual organ in the beautiful brick and stone Presbyterian Church of St Paul’s Wanganui. It is in great condition and well maintained by the congregation.

In the clip below, you can enjoy Nicholas Grigsby playing Buxtehude's Präludium, Fuga und Ciacona on this wonderful instrument.

The SILENT Organ

Yes, all is quiet in the organ ‘loft’ in the Auckland Town Hall. The wonderful work done by Klais with assistance from the South Island Organ Company and The Edge lies waiting for the arrival of the great bulk of the 5352 pipes that will be the make up of the new instrument, and the chaps to install, voice and tune these new ranks, included in which will be the two Maori stops, unique to this instrument.

More about this later. In the meantime City Organist John Wells has to make do with the large electronic organ as a poor substitute until the organ is recommissioned at 4.30pm on Sunday the 21st March 2010. What a day that will be!.

Meantime Ian Bell of London, the City Council’s expert advisor is in regular contact with Philipp Klais in Bonn, monitoring the progress of our instrument. I will keep you posted as any significant developments occur. By the way we are still, and will be for a long time to come, seeking folk to become ORGAN DONORS. A brochure can be obtained from outlets in The Edge or me.We have plans for promoting the organ and the possibility of establishing an organ scholarship well beyond the commissioning and into the future.

St Matthews in the City are recommisioning the lovely pipe organ in their church and Ian Bell has also been retained as advisor to them. Much of the organ is now at the Willis Factory in Liverpool and is due for re installation early in 2010. What an exciting time this will be for the church and indeed for the organ lovers of the community.

NBR NZO Millenniums’ Sponsors

Every year, for their continuing very generous financial support, our Millennium Benefactors are given the opportunity to be the named sponsors of an artist or creative of their choice in one production. This opportunity is also extended to the Friends of the Opera in Wellington and Auckland and our Auckland Guild. For the Italian Girl the following artists or creative:

Mustafa, Conal Coad, sponsored by Jenny Gibbs, C.N.Z.M.
Elvira, Katherine Wiles, sponsored by Trevor and Jan Farmer
Zulma, Kristen Darragh, sponsored by John and Margaret Hunn
Lindoro, Christian Baumgartel, sponsored by Friedlander Foundation
Isabella, Wendy Dawn Thompson, sponsored by Turnovsky Endowment Trust
Taddeo, Warwick Fyfe, sponsored by The Opera Guild, Auckland
Director, Colin McColl, sponsored by Friends of the Opera, Auckland
Set/Lighting Designer, Tony Rabbit, sponsored by Friends of the Opera, Wellington

Wyn Davies, our Director of Music and conductor of the Italian Girl, is annually sponsored under a special funding arrangement by Friedlander Foundation.

The company is enormously grateful to all its wonderful financial supporters and sponsors and we are delighted that the funders named above have made the selections they have.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lexus Song Quest Finalists

Warmest congratulations to the six finalists of the 2009 Lexus Song Quest the winner of which will be known after the competition on the 23rd April in the Auckland Town Hall.

The Trustees of the New Zealand Opera School are delighted to see that five of the finalists have all attended the School. I refer to Wade Kernot, Julia Booth, Kristen Darragh, Andrew Glover and Polly Ott. Wade, Julia, Kristen and Andrew have all been Emerging Artists with the NBR New Zealand Opera and Polly may be an Emerging Artist in the next annual session. Also, the sixth finalist, Aivale Cole, has sung with NBR New Zealand Opera. There is no doubt that our combined work and dedication to these young New Zealand Singers is having results.

I look forward immensely to the finals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Wishes

I send you all a very blessed Easter. May the celebrated events be healing, peaceful and uplifting.

Yours sincerely,
Donald Trott

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NBR New Zealand Opera’s 2007/8 Emerging Artists

Left to right: Hadleigh Adams, Barbara Graham, Matthew Landreth, Julia Booth, Michael Gray, Barbara Paterson

Last Saturday evening those of us fortunate enough to gather in the great hall of the Auckland Town Hall were treated to a unique experience when the work of six New Zealand composers for the opera voice was presented by the six very fine Emerging Artists from 2007/8 PwC Dame Malvina Major Artists programme.

The whole evening was delightfully hosted by the Artistic Manager of the APO, Antony Ernst, who conducted a brief interview with the composer prior to our singers presenting their work. The pieces were:

  • Hone Tuwhare’s poem RAIN composed by Anthony Ritchie (who was unable to be present) sung by Baritone Matthew Landreth
  • Jeff Lin’s contemporary version of Chinese Li Yu’s Exile from the Native Land sung by Tenor Michael Gray
  • Penny Dodd composed a piece from scratch by adapting a soliloquy from Euripedes’ Medea sung with great conviction by Barbara Paterson
  • Anthony Young gave us a scenario where a mother tries to explain to her blind baby What is Light sung by soprano Julia Booth with great pathos
  • Matthew Crawford’s Karlo Mila’s poem A Place to Stand with texts in Maori and English was well presented by soprano Barbara Graham and finally
  • Hadleigh Adams gave us a very moving composition by David Hamilton entitled ‘Breaking the Quiet’, based on the Mt Erebus disaster of 30 years ago. No one was there to hear the sound.
Our singers who had worked with the composers during the year gave very fine presentations. From time to time the orchestral compositions overwhelmed the singers but they gave very worthwhile and very credible interpretations and it was a privilege to be in the audience.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rebuilding the Auckland Town Hall Organ

Apart from the NZ Opera and the NZ Opera School the most exciting thing in my life in the last few years has been the refurbishment of the Auckland Town Hall Pipe Organ.

Being on the Trust (representing The Edge) has been a very interesting journey. The restoration of this magnificent instrument back to the grandeur that it had when Henry Brett (a former Mayor of Auckland) donated it to the city in 1911, and which was sadly decimated by following an unfortunate fashion of the 60’s, will provide the Auckland City and indeed New Zealand with a pipe organ of great world-wide significance.

The German firm from Bonn, Orgelbau Klais, the firm who won the $3.5million contract, removed, in January 2008, all that was left of the 1911 instrument and shipped it to Bonn for refurbishment. The pipe work that was installed in 1970 was also removed and sent to the South Island Organ Company’s factory for storage until it is decided what will happen to it. The South Island Organ Company is working with Klais on this project. Thus all but the façade pipes and the huge 32ft Open Wood pipes on the back wall of the organ chamber were dismantled leaving the area for complete refurbishment to receive the wonderful new instrument.

In December 2008 three large containers arrived in Auckland with all the refurbished materials from the organ along with a range of the larger new pipe work that had been constructed in their factory in Bonn. Then on the 5th January 2009 a team of 11 German craftsmen (shown above, with His Worship the Mayor and yours truly in front of the Auckland Town Hall Organ) arrive from Bonn and they along with 2 from the South Island Organ Company and 1 from The Edge commenced the huge task of installing all the splendid work that had been constructed in the German factory. The Great Hall was a mass of timber, cases of pipes, swell, solo and choir boxes, wiring and all the ancillary detail that makes up this grand and intricate instrument.

Donald entertains the Klais crew during their rare free time.

During the next 6 weeks this fine team did an absolutely splendid job, working from 7am till 7pm daily to install the major structure, the refurbished pipes from the original instrument, the swell, solo and choir boxes, the hundreds on miles of wiring, the lovely new console, the walkways through the organ on three levels, the beautiful oak stair case inside the organ, the new larger pipes (there are still three more containers to arrive in August to make up the 5352 pipes that will comprise he completed organ), the new blower motors in the Town Hall basement and all the wind reservoirs. A huge and complex job completed with the utmost efficiency.

On my return from the Opera School on the 15th January I could not keep away from the Town Hall. This was history in the making and I simply lost count of the number of people I showed though the instrument. The staff were so accommodating and pleasant of my (and visitors) invasion of their space and I thank Thomas Von Heymann (foreman) and his staff for their gracious acceptance of this. Also I am very grateful to Leigh Redshaw of the Auckland City Council and Frank Woolf of The Edge for allowing me to do this.

His Worship the Mayor, John Banks, was so impressed with the work that he invited the whole team to morning tea and the following day was taken on a tour of the organ. More soon.