Wine, sunset and song - Opera at Twilight
REVIEW: There can be few things lovelier than watching the sun set under a pink sky in the Italian-inspired Medici Court at Hamilton Gardens, a glass of wine clutched in your hand.
That is, of course, unless you are also being serenaded by opera singers.
And if that is what tickles your cultural fancy, take a look at Opera at Twilight on the Hamilton Festival Arts program.
Opera at Twilight is presented by Opera Brava , a small opera company with the aim of promoting the artform and other musical events to the people of the Waikato and beyond.
They may be small, but they certainly pack a punch.
Comprising sopranos Pamela Wallace, Elaine Wogan and Coryn Knapper, tenor Chase Douglas, baritone John Drummond and accompanist Francis Cowan, the company had their audience enthralled from the first magical note.
They delivered almost two hours of arias, duets, trios and quartets by the rock stars of the opera world: Auber, Beethoven, Delibes, Donizetti, Dvorak, Haydn, Lehar, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi.
And it wasn't just what they sung, but how they did it.
This wasn't a night of cultural snobbery, this was opera the way it was written to be performed - full of theatrics and humour, fun and frivolity. Opera was the pop music of its day and Opera Brava nodded to its once-mainstream influence.
In a welcome touch all songs were explained in the printed program, so we could understand better the stories being acted out in front of us.
There were wonderful pieces from Mozart's Don Giovanni, an opera based on the exploits of legendary lothario Don Juan, that had the crowd tapping their feet.
Wallace and Wogan delivered the first of many goosebump moments of the evening with the duet Dome epais le jasmin from Lakme by Delibes - otherwise known as the song made famous in the British Airways commercial.
The evening ended with all five singers enjoying a glass of champagne while singing Brindisi from Verdi' La Traviata. It was enough to bring them a standing ovation.
My one criticism? We all wished he had some bubbly to toast their success.
Opera at Twilight is on tonight at 8pm. See www.hgaf.co.nz for details.