Night of song enthrals crowd

Performers were as delighted to be at the Opera in the Park as the audience.

The Nelson City Council-sponsored event at Trafalgar Park on Saturday night featured a variety of musical acts, from jazz to opera, and ended in a stunning fireworks display.

The audience numbered 6816, with 5000 of those from presales.

DOUBLE ACT: Tenor Pene Pati joins Amina Edris to perform a duet.
DOUBLE ACT: Tenor Pene Pati joins Amina Edris to perform a duet.

The concert on a clear starlit night fell on the third anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake so performers as well as organisers especially welcomed Cantabrians at the event.

Auckland-based popular tenor Pene Pati opened the event, singing a variety of classic opera through the night, accompanied by Orchestra Wellington, with Nessun Dorma as a finale. He said it was "fabulous". "It's so cool, it's such a good feeling looking out there, the whole of the city flocks out to watch this happen. I'm sad we don't have something like this in Auckland."

The event also featured vocalist Tama Waipara and Maori songstress Hinewehi Mohi, who performed individual sets as well as a duet.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG: Fireworks burst above the audience in the finale
GOING OUT WITH A BANG: Fireworks burst above the audience in the finale

Waipara, who trained as a clarinet player, particularly enjoyed performing live with the orchestra.

"For me it's coming full circle, having started out as a classical musician and ended up in lots of different places and then ended up doing my originals with an orchestra is really special.

"Nelson has showed up . . . it's kind of overwhelming to come and see so many people here."

The last time Mohi played in Nelson was for the World of WearableArts, she was pleased to be back.

"This has been particularly lovely because the crowd is so warm and encouraging, it's amazing, I haven't done a gig like this in a long time when you feel like everyone is there with you and having a lot of fun - coming together for that unifying force of music," she said.

The gates opened at 5.30pm and there was a steady stream of people coming through until the performances started at 7.30pm.

Jo Coghlan got to the park early with her family and friends to secure a good spot close to the front. She had been to previous events and was pleased with the variety this year.

"There's something for everyone, for people who don't know much about opera it's a great experience."

Also at the opera was Mark Deans, who was a first time opera goer. "I lived in London for 12 years and never managed to see an opera so I was determined to see it in Nelson, I really like what I heard today, it was pretty good.

"Pene Pati has such a lovely voice I really enjoyed that. I wish I has been to see some in Europe when I lived there for 20 years."

Couple Donald and Deborah McConchie had been to the Opera in the Park before and were particularly impressed with trumpeter James Morrison.

"We enjoy the high calibre of much here, Nelson is very lucky, we're not avid opera goers but there's a nice variety of music here," Mr McConchie said.

Music director and councillor Pete Rainey said he was "thrilled" with the outcome and the performers this year.

"It seems the presales are stronger than last year, it's always a bit weather driven, we were a bit nervous looking at the forecast this morning but it's been great."

Mayor Rachel Reese said the Opera in the Park was "what Nelson is all about".

"I think this is an amazing night in Nelson, it's a huge crowd of people. I think it's extraordinary.

"It's an indication of how much this event is owned by the Nelson people, this is their event they turn up every time it's on."

The Opera in the Park would go back to being a biennial event, the next one would be in 2016 so it would alternate with the Adam Chamber Music Festival, she said.