On song: Soprano Amelia Berry performs at Matakana, north of Auckland, last February. She, along with six other opera names, will be performing in Queenstown at next month's Twilight Opera


Closed borders are providing an extra boost for next month’s Twilight Opera, the stage for which is a recently-designated ‘garden of national interest’ at Dalefield.

Produced by the Arrowtown Creative Arts Society (ACAS), with Auckland’s Opera Studio, it’ll be the second event of its kind held at Bruce and Margot Robinson’s ‘Birchwood Garden’, at Birchwood Road.

Five of the seven names now signed on for the February 21 concert should be on contract overseas, singing with American and European companies, were it not for Covid.

Following on from last year’s operatic coup, which saw ACAS secure leading opera tenor Simon O’Neill to perform at Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall — a sold-out performance regarded as one of the best staged in the historic hall — the society’s now doubled down.

Paul Whelan (bass baritone), sopranos Natasha Wilson, Amelia Berry and Amina Edris, tenor Oliver Sewell, baritone Will King and Ipu Laga’aia, from popular Pasifika quartet The Shades, are all confirmed in the line-up, being accompanied by pianist Claire Caldwell.

The larger-than-anticipated talent pool meant the performance space in the gardens needed a stage position rejig to cater to a larger layout.

ACAS chairman Paul Rea says the larger and more expensive group of talent was able to be secured thanks to the Robinsons’ generosity and because advanced sales were ‘‘well ahead of target”.

“It’s a magical, dramatic spot to lose yourself with the finest operatic voices’.

‘‘Our last Twilight Opera sold out and it’s already clear this will, too,’’ Rea says.

‘‘Obviously, we also monitor the Covid situation, and should there be any new government recommendations affecting public gatherings we’d follow them.’’

Garden gates open at 5pm on Sunday, February 21, before the concert starts at 6pm.

People can bring their own picnics, or order opera hampers from Glenda Drive’s Taste and Savour — they’ll be delivered on the day.

Tickets for the event cost $80, or $70 for ACAS members.

They’re available from Arrowtown Pharmacy or online through Eventfinda.