Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Mollies in St Mary’s Bay was alive, as it often is, with the sound of music, and this time it was our splendid tenor Simon O’Neill. The evening was very suitably introduced by Simon’s tutor and mentor Frances Wilson.

I had the pleasure of the company of Jenny Gibbs, Tom and Anne Morris and Willie Hill and Coral Mazlin-Hill for a splendid five-course meal, interspersed with delightful commentary on Simon’s career thus far. With snippets of an aria here, a demonstration of voice type there, Simon gave a mixed audience (including Josh Kronfeld) of 40 persons an amusing and most interesting ride into the world of opera through his eyes. He ended by displaying a contract with La Scala Opera for a tenor role in Verdi’s great opera Otello for 2011/12/13. Well done Simon. It was delightful to be with you again and to have the pleasure of Carmel’s company, where she could relax knowing that twins Tom and Grace were safely asleep upstairs. A great and memorable evening. Thank you Simon and Mollies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

La Bella Italiana Venuta In Auckland!

The Auckland members of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus are now in full re-rehearsal to ‘come up to speed’ with our Italian Girl (aka Wendy Dawn Thompson).

Following rave reviews in Wellington, the company has arrived in good form to rehearse with the chorus and APO, ready for the grand opening night on Thursday the 28th of May. If you have not yet booked for this production, do so now. Throughout the remainder of 2009, people will say to you: "Did you go to the Italian Girl?" If you have to reply "no", you will have to admit you missed a comic opera of great acclaim and an operatic event that will be remembered for years to come.

Performance dates:
Thursday 28th May, 7.30pm Opening night
Saturday 30th May, 7.30pm
Tuesday 2nd June, 6.30pm Friends night
Thursday 4th June, 7.30pm
Saturday 6th June, 7.30pm Final night

After June 6th, the production ‘sails’ off for a season in Scotland.

Come and join The Italian Girl for a great night out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a romp!

Cast members of The Italian Girl in Algiers in full flight. From left to right: Beach Babe 1, Richard Green (Haly), Beach Babe 2, Katherine Wiles (Elvira), Conal Coad (Mustafà), Kristen Darragh (Zulma)

The Italian Girl in Algiers should not be missed.
A contemporary, high tech design component, wonderfully acted and sung, hilarious costumes and on top of that the MUSIC which is so engaging. With its joyous quintets, sextets, duos and arias it cannot fail to entertain and please. It's just the sort of entertainment we need in the chill of the evening and the economy. You’ll have a great laugh. All the principals are outstanding so I am not going to single out any one in particular. It's a marvellous cast of New Zealand singers, joined by one lovely tenor guest, Christian Baumg√§rtel from Germany.

The wonderful Wendy Dawn Thompson (Isabella) risks life and limb careering around the stage on a Segway while wearing 4-inch heels

Do not miss this opera. It’s well worth the time and the cost. Just have a look at the photos with Wendy Dawn careering round the stage on her Segway and delivering the music in her glorious voice.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


The final dress rehearsal hit the St James stage last night and my ‘feedback’ from independent audience members has been VERY positive. Comments like: fantastic, very funny and wonderfully sung have been the norm. Also modern and very accessible. There were one or two small technical problems but these will be sorted today already for the big opening night on Saturday. Congratulations to everyone and very best wishes for the big night. Tell all your friends this is a great show and wonderful entertainment.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Capt Bryan Wyness (Chair of the NZ Opera School Trust) and I (Director) travelled to Wanganui on Thursday 30th Apl to talk with Andrew Carpenter, Bursar Wanganui Collegiate School about he 2010 New Zealand Opera School, 3rd to 14th January and to meet some of the WOW (Wanganui Opera Week) committee.

A most useful and worthwhile journey with Collegiate ensuring great care would be given to the re costings for our 2010 School and both parties agreeing that there was prestige for both Schools through the event. Collegiate have just appointed a PR person and the Opera School’s PR person, Caroline Nelson will be put in touch with the appointee to ensure maximum coverage for both parties throughout the country.

The Opera School has been enormously grateful to individuals and trusts that, over the years, have supported the School financially. This year is not going to be easy with the stressful financial constraints currently affecting many people and WOW will do all they can in the local community to assist with fund raising. In this connection Wyn Davies, Director of Music, the NBR New Zealand Opera has willingly agreed to perform voluntarily his famous Just Wyn cabaret in the city towards the end of the year as a fund raiser.

What a wonderful privilege to be invited by Nicholas Grigsby to attend the usual Friday chapel practise at 8.30am. Great singing from the boys and girls of the School and even the Welsh would have been thrilled with the rendition of ‘Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah’ accompanied by the chapel’s fine pipe organ. Thank you Collegiate and Nicholas, it brought back great memories for me and it is nice to know that that tradition is still in place.