Stars come out for Opera in the Park

23:58, Feb 12 2014
Opera in the Park
BACK AGAIN: More than simply opera, Opera in the Park showcases Nelson’s event expertise. Here, Orchestra Wellington entertained at last year’s show.

Musician Tama Waipara found his voice after doctors banned him from playing the clarinet.

The artist was midway through a degree studying classical clarinet at New York's prestigious Manhattan School of Music when a fuse box fell on to his head just outside his apartment.

Waipara spent two weeks in hospital and because of complications from the head injury he was forbidden to play the clarinet for nine months.

Opera in the Park
BIG VOICE: Tama Waipara is ‘‘super excited’’ to be returning to Nelson next weekend.

He is one of the stars of next Saturday's Opera in the Park, which is one of Nelson's biggest outdoor events.

He says being banned from the clarinet forged his stronger interest in song writing and singing.

"I needed something to do and wasn't allowed to do the thing that I had gone there for," he says from his Auckland base.


"So I tried something else and I suppose, lucky for me that something else turned out to be not only something I was OK at but something I really loved. It opened up a whole world of opportunities and possibilities."

He started his career as the first vocalist signed to ObliqSound in New York.

He performed at the Nelson Arts Festival in September staring in The star of The Words and Music of Jacques Brel and The Hard Road.

He is "super excited" to be coming back to Nelson so soon to perform at Opera in the Park.

Waipara released an album last year, Fill Up the Silence, which was recorded in New York.

A single from that album, Medicine Man, was nominated for a Silver Scroll.

He will be performing songs from his new album but with his background in classical music he is really excited to hear how his songs will sound performed with an orchestra.

"I suppose what's different about what I'm doing is it's not opera at all, but obviously my background is as a classical clarinetist to begin with, so I suppose there are a lot of orchestral elements in the way I write.

"So for me it is quite exciting to see the two worlds come together. The rock pop world and the classical world.

"It's the first time any of them will have been performed with an orchestra. It's pretty exciting."

As well as hearing his songs come to life, Waipara says he is looking forward to hearing the other stars take to the stage next Saturday.

He has followed Pati Pene and his brother's "epic rise" and is really excited to see how wonderfully they are achieving internationally and nationally.

Opera in the Park musical director Pete Rainey is also excited about the this year's lineup, including Tama.

"I was really impressed with Tama Waipara at the arts festival and have been looking at his career for a while. He's an artist that's on the up."

It is the 15th Opera in the Park that Pete has been involved in and he says the event will not be held next year as it is shifting to only being held biennially.

One of this year's opera stars Pene Pati, a Samoan-born Aucklander, is fast becoming a household face as a member of popular trio Sole Mio.

"He's got a great voice . . . I think he's just going to be a knockout," Pete says.

Solo Mio will perform in Nelson for the first time in March.

Sole Mio's self-titled debut album was the biggest selling album in New Zealand in 2013.

Pene will be joined by Egyptian-born New Zealand soprano Amina Edris. Amina is a coloratura soprano, a type of operatic soprano who specialises in music distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.

"We've got some really great stuff this year and I think people will really enjoy it."

Australian trumpet player James Morrison will also perform.

"He's a real star, he's going to take the concert by storm because he's such a great player.

"He's a funny guy and great raconteur."

Pete says those who like the fireworks at the evening's end won't be disappointed.

He has scheduled Pomp and Circumstance March, which features the song Land of Hope and Glory, to end the night.

"It's kind of old-fashioned but I think people enjoy a sing-along."