Trio keep it happy

BROTHERLY BANTER: Sol3 Mio’s Moses Mackay, centre, with cousins Pene and Amitai Pati
BROTHERLY BANTER: Sol3 Mio’s Moses Mackay, centre, with cousins Pene and Amitai Pati

Laughter is a great tonic and an essential component in getting rid of the mustiness of opera, says baritone Moses Mackay.

He and his cousins, tenors Amitai and Pene Pati, are Sol3 Mio, which performs in Blenheim on March 19 during a national tour.

On stage, Sol3 Mio is part musical comedy, part opera. Even the opera is sung in a very Kiwi sort of Italian, using double bass, ukulele, guitar, piano, and bongos to complement their giggly camaraderie and velvet voices.

A sly look, raised eyebrow, horsing around with the lyrics, or other self-deprecating dismissal of their incredible talent seems to make it OK for opera newbies to enjoy the music.

Their tour follows the release of the trio's chart-topping, self-titled debut album, and Mackay says the live show includes a lot of "brotherly banter".

The singers' families came to New Zealand from Samoa seeking a better life, and it has been filled with music, choirs, hard work and an ability to see the absurdity in life.

All three are Auckland University Bachelor of Music graduates but the foundations for their stagecraft also comes from a life crammed with musical experiences that spans everything from weekly childhood performances in rest homes to backing George Benson.

Pene was the 2010 NZ Performer Of The Year, Amitai won the 2012 Lexus Song Quest and Mackay was recognised as an emerging artist by the Dame Malvina Major Foundation last year.

Their first performance was in a half-filled hall at Massey High School, and the two-week run finished with a sold-out show at the Auckland Town Hall in October 2012 - most of them of a certain age.

Amitai admits the group started off with "a more mature audience, so to speak".

"We sang a lot of their favourites, but we've started to incorporate a lot of Kiwi classics and contemporary music and have got a lot of the younger crowd to come along as well," he says.

"As it's gone on we've started to open up to a lot of the younger generation."

Sol3 Mio perform at Stadium 2000 in Blenheim, at 8pm on Wednesday, March 19.

The Express has two double passes for the concert to give away. Go in the draw to win by sending your name and contact details to Sol3 Mio, Marlborough Express, PO Box 242, Blenheim, or email your details to by Friday.

The Marlborough Express