Festival 2003, Opera Night Review.
I first heard that Hayley would be appearing at the Faenol
Festival in North Wales, I knew I just had to have a ticket.
So, in those distant, cold and damp days of February,
I made the necessary arrangements and managed to get a
front row seat. The ticket was for the Opera Gala, Sunday
24th August 2003. The seat was row A no. 57.
MONTHS to wait. Seemed like a lifetime. But, it soon went
by and, before I knew it, it was only a week away and
so much to do. Suddenly it was Saturday night and the
anticipation made it difficult to sleep. The following
morning, I rose early to give myself plenty of time. From
where I would enter Wales, there is a new road, laughingly
referred to as an expressway. However, just two miles
into Wales, it is a regular feature to hit severe traffic
problems. On one occasion, it took me two hours to cover
just four miles. The only thing the road was in need of
was parking meters.
concert was due to start at 8pm. I left home for the 75-mile
drive at 1:40pm because of the potential for congestion.
It is a bad road for traffic on a holiday weekend anyway.
And with much of our rail network closed for engineering
works, they were expecting traffic up by 30 percent. I
decided to take action to use an alternative route around
the congested area. There is a new bridge, which takes
you onto the bottom coastal road. Unfortunately, it goes
through a great many small coastal towns. Anyway, I took
the bridge and re-joined the expressway eight miles further
it happens, traffic was quite light and I was able to
average just over sixty miles an hour. I made the journey
in just under an hour and a half and was there at 3:15.
The gates didn't open until 5pm. With so much time to
go before the gates opened, I decided to study the crowd.
The queue was about forty to fifty people wide and some
100 metres from the front to my place in it. When there
was still an hour to go, I looked toward the back of the
queue and discovered that it was nearing five times longer
behind than it was in front. This was going to be a big
audience. I heard many people talking about this young
girl from New Zealand. I wasted no time in telling them
about her. Some had newspapers - well, one particular
newspaper, which carried a full-page piece about Hayley.
Trouble is, it was published last Friday AND I MISSED
IT (but not for long).
once in the grounds, there were still 3 hours to wait.
Three hours in which I did nothing but scan the crowd
looking for Hayley or her father. I knew that I certainly
did not want to try and introduce myself during the concert
or it's interval. That would be most discourteous and
could break concentration. Oh. I tell a lie. I located
my seat and was relieved to see that, had I been hard
of hearing, I would have no difficulty enjoying the music.
My seat was directly in front of, and only about ten feet
away from, a bank of EIGHTEEN amplifiers. If I wasn't
hard of hearing before I thought, there's a good chance
I could be after. There were no other amplifier positions
around the field, only those on either side of the stage.
So, the volume was going to be fairly high so that those
at the back could hear it. I was right. It was pretty
were three warm up acts who were all great. This showed
a very high standard was built in right from the very
the concert started and Bryn Terfel entered to a fantastic
round of applause. Nothing less would have been expected,
after all he is a world class singer. Plus, he is a "local
boy" and very popular. He sang the Toreador Song
from Carmen. Then Jose Carreras entered - another huge
name - and received just as much applause as Bryn. He
sang two pieces, which were both very well received. Then
it was Bryn and then Jose again.
came the moment I had waited so long for. Hayley came
on and the crowd rose to their feet, cheering and applauding
like mad. What a moment! I was in awe at the response
from some 10500 people who were present. Bryn Terfel didn't
get a standing ovation when he walked on stage. Jose Carreras
had a few people stand for his entry, but not that many.
But for Hayley, the entire audience rose to their feet.
To say I was delighted at this response for her would
be an understatement. Clearly, many in the audience loved
her on sight. She wore a close fitting pink dress covered
with little sparkly, multi-coloured butterflies. Then
she spoke and greeted the crowd in Welsh. This brought
a cheer and more applause. Even more people now loved
her. She switched to English, telling the audience that
she loved Wales, it made her feel homesick.
it was time for her to sing. She began with Andrew Lloyd
Webber's Pie Jesu. That was virtually it. Anyone who didn't
love her by now, certainly would after that, I thought.
It was the most beautiful performance and, experiencing
it live is far superior to even the best quality recording.
I was thoroughly entranced and I wasn't the only one -
and I don't mean the rest of the audience. The concert
was being recorded for TV and one of the crew (the boom
camera was also directly in front of me) was mesmerised.
It took a call over his headset from the control room
to break the trance and get him back to work. I know,
because I heard his response. In a matter of what seemed
like only a few moments she had finished singing her first
song, for which she received a standing ovation. As she
left the stage, she half raised her arm and gave a typical
young girl wave to the crowd. This brought gasps of "Oh,
God, isn't she lovely." What more can I say. She
had ten thousand five hundred people eating out of the
palm of her hand.
microphones were put in place and Hayley came back on
stage, along with Bryn and Jose to sing Schubert's "Ave
Maria". Another standing ovation followed. I was
clapping so hard it was hurting my hands but I didn't
opened the second half with a magnificent rendition of
En Aranjuez con tu amor.
then came back on stage, she had changed her dress for
a cream coloured one with one of those angled hems that
starts at the knee on one side and goes down to the ankle
on the other (you can tell I'm no fashion expert). It
was covered in a glittering design. This brought gasps
of appreciation from the crowd and many hushed statements
of "isn't she beautiful". Now, she sang "In
Trutina". Which is, of course, from her new album
"PURE". With such a beautiful rendition of this
delightful piece, she was accompanied by the awed silence
of the audience as they drank in every note. Once more,
Hayley was greeted by the kind of applause that only comes
from the best a great artist can give. And yet it all
seemed so effortless.
Hayley had sung in Latin, now it was time to switch to
Maori and "Hine e Hine". Before she began, she
told the audience what the song was about. People hung
on her every word, listening to this beautiful speaking
voice with that subtle New Zealand accent. People loved
to listen even when she WASN'T singing. It was obviously
the first time that most of the audience had heard it
- and they loved it. If anything, the applause from the
audience was getting longer and louder with each song
that Hayley delivered. Hayley left the stage again and
gave that little wave as she went. It had no less impact
than the first time. This was one audience that I witnessed
being won over in their entirety by Hayley's uncomplicated
and genuine adorable character.
second microphone was positioned and Hayley returned to
the stage with Bryn and they sang "Pokarekare Ana"
as a duet. It was immediately obvious that Bryn's bass-baritone
and Hayley's soprano were a perfect complement each of
the other. The sheer beauty of this song was not lost
on the audience. But, it was fighting a losing battle
against the perfection of Hayley's voice. Suddenly, it
was over and Hayley's part in the concert was complete.
The remaining eight pieces sort of drifted over me without
really registering very much. I was still wallowing in
the beauty of Hayley's performance.
the concert was over and they came back on stage to take
their final bows. By far the greatest reception was for
Hayley, who took another standing ovation. I lost count,
was that the fourth? No, it could have been the fifth.
Or was it six? Anyway, they left the stage again, to be
followed by the roar of the crowd who were not prepared
to let it go there. So, it was time for the encores. First
Bryn, then Jose. Then it was Hayley's turn again and the
crowd cheered as she returned to the stage. For her encore,
she sang "Amazing Grace". The performance was
impeccable and, at the end of the song, she showed quite
clearly that those incredible high notes are still well
within her ability. The audience were loving Hayley more
and more with every moment. But, she had one more ace
up her sleeve (the fact that there weren't any sleeves
in her gown is not the point).
and Jose returned to the stage for a duet which was received
with no less enthusiasm than they had received earlier.
When they left the stage, the audience started again chanting
for more, cheering, whistling and banging their hands
on their chairs. Doesn't do much if you stamp you feet
Jose and Hayley returned to the stage one more time. This
time, Jose didn't sing. It was left to Bryn to start the
Welsh National Anthem, which is a very stirring tune.
He then signalled for Hayley to join in. Which she did,
in Welsh (obviously) and that was the coup de gras. With
performances like that, Hayley's popularity is a foregone
conclusion. There wasn't a person left in the grounds
who didn't love her.
the concert, I managed to attract the attention of Gerald,
her dad. I introduced myself and we had a chat for a minute.
Then I said that, had I seen him earlier, I would have
asked if Hayley would sign my CD inserts if she had the
time. He asked me for them and told me he would get her
to do it straight away, just wait there a minute. Next
thing I saw was him looking at me through the security
barrier. He beckoned me forward and cleared it with security
for me to go through. Standing the other side was Hayley.
I blurted out one word in both awe and surprise - "Hayley".
She had come out of a reception where there were over
a hundred people waiting for her, just to meet me. She
had signed my CD inserts and was just such a magical and
lovely person to speak to. I was so honoured and said
so. I got told that the honour was all hers. This I will
never believe. The honour was definitely mine, and I'll
fight anyone who says different.
had driven thirty miles back from the venue before the
realisation actually hit me. I was just so excited and
couldn't believe it. AND I EVEN GOT TO TOUCH HER HAND
(he says like an over-excited child).
night's experience has made me even more of a dedicated
fan. I am now totally loyal to this most beautiful person
and her fantastic and friendly father. In fact, her whole
family has my undying loyalty.
you Hayley for the most wonderful night out I have ever