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Stories and photos from the latest issue of 'Live Nelson', the Council's fortnightly tabloid, issue 63, 2 February 2002

A night with the stars

Sealord Opera in the Park, Saturday 16 February

Read concert review from 'The Nelson Mail'

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"Opera is not stuffy or pretentious, it's all about passion, fabulous stories with really interesting characters who are either  loving each other or poisoning each other."

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Hayley Westenra
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Deborah Riedel
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Anson Austin
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Jud Arthur

That from Pete Rainey, artistic director of Sealord Opera in the Park. He says the annual event is 'slowly but surely' starting to attract people who wouldn't normally go to a classical concert: "They're realising it's a lovely opportunity to sit down in a very relaxed setting and hear some beautiful music, performed by a cast of international stars and the best of local talent."

This year's programme has the usual mix of familiar opera solos, duets and choruses, along with some that are a little more challenging. And while it is Hayley Westenra who will be the draw card for many, the opera singers themselves are top international names.

This year's line up is led by Sydney born soprano Deborah Riedel. She has sung in many leading international opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.

Tenor, Anson Austin¹s international appearances have included Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutte at the Glyndebourne Festival and Camille in The Merry Widow for San Francisco Opera. Anson has partnered many of the world's leading artists including Dame Joan Sutherland and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Bass, Jud Arthur made his debut with Opera Otago in 1992 and has performed regularly in New Zealand and Australia since then, including with the Wellington City Ospera and the NBR New Zealand Opera. Banishing the 'sissieinger' image he has played for Otago in rugby and basketball and has represented New Zealand in showjumping!

Conductor Kenneth Young is one of New Zealand's leading conductors, working with this country's principal orchestras, as well as in Australia, Japan and Europe.

Deputy conductor Louise Clark is taking the  orchestra through initial rehearsals and has responsibility for the chorus.

The special Sealord Festival Orchestra has been drawn from the Nelson Symphony Orchestra with guest musicians from national and regional orchestras; while the Festival Chorus is made up from local singers and those who are coming from other centres just be part of Opera in the Park.

What you'll hear
Programme highlights include  the Jewel Song from Faust, the beautiful aria Vissi d'arte from Tosca, Jerome Kern's Ol Man River, the last arias and the duet from the first act of Puccinni's  La Boheme,  and from the trio of stars, Brindisi's Drinking Song from La Traviata.

Hayley Westenra will perform a set of songs including Bach's Ave Maria and You'll Never Walk Alone from Carousel. The unassuming 14 year old has just been signed by leading classical label Decca, who also have Pavarotti on their books. Hayley's inclusion in the programme was secured with additional sponsorship from Carter Holt Harvey.

The finale, performed with a magical and spectacular fireworks accompaniment, will be Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture - the only musical piece scored to include cannon fire!

A place and a space for everyone
While the formula remains the same - a picnic atmosphere and accessible programme - this year a family area will be set aside.

"We have taken this step in response to requests from the public," says Festival Director Annabel Norman. "We want families to come of course, but there are people who really want to listen seriously to the music, so we are setting aside an area where a little movement and chatter from children won't be frowned on, then well back from the main audience area we have the bouncy castle where the littlies can really let off steam."

There are also separate areas for those who bring chairs and those who opt to sit on the grass.

"We don't want to overdo the rules," Annabel says. "It's mainly a matter of consideration. At any event where several thousand people gather in one place a little thoughtfulness helps everyone enjoy themselves."

Enjoy a glass of wine or local beer served by a Nelson celebrity at the Opera Bar. You can stay in the garden bar area, or if you take your tipple back to your picnic you are asked to ensure all glass is handled and disposed of carefully.

"This applies to people bringing their own picnic hampers as well," Annabel says. "We have a pack in pack out policy where all glass must be taken off site when opera goers leave."

Buses and Parking
There will be buses from Wakatu Square at regular intervals (15 minutes) from 5pm, stopping at the usual stops on both the Bishopdale and Tahuna routes.

People are encouraged to car pool and to follow the parking signage so that those returning to Richmond are on the southern side of the field and those returning to the city are on the north. Disabled parking is set aside, and drivers are also encouraged to drop off elderly passengers at the gate prior to parking. Bring a torch to light up your return walk to your car.

Access info
Bus Service: Leaving Wakatu Square every 20 minutes from 5pm. Will pickup at all stops on Tahunanui and Bishopdale routes.

  • Gates open: 5pm
  • Showtime: 7.30pm - 10pm
  • Disabled parking and seating areas available - look for the signs.
  • Weather: Wet weather date is Sunday 17 February. Listen to Fifeshire for details.

Info courtesy of Charlotte Church Communities (MSN) and Gareth

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