Back by popular demand: Soprano Amelia Berry and tenor Oliver Sewell

Six of New Zealand’s top opera stars will perform at one of the world’s most dramatic settings in Queenstown next month.

The Arrowtown Creative Arts Society (ACAS) is bringing back its ‘Twilight Opera’ in conjunction with Auckland Opera Studio – cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions – debuting at Sharyn and Grant Stalker’s Springpointer Garden, at Dalefield.

“Our Twilight Opera has become one of those special occasions where the talent and a sensational venue combine to somehow make each other larger; ‘Remarkable’, in this case, if you like,” ACAS chair Paul Rea says.

“We had huge successes with the first two Twilight Operas, held in the gorgeous gardens of the nearby Robinson home.

“ACAS is deeply appreciative of the Stalkers, because presenting a major concert, plus providing a picnic venue, involves an immense commitment.”

Since founding six years ago, the society’s built a formidable reputation for attracting big talents – for example, in December, it brought back global opera star Simon O’Neill to perform in Arrowtown for the second time.

“I don’t think it’s understood what a major part NZ singers now play in world opera,” Rea says.

“Working with the Opera Studio helps us immensely, because their clout assembles younger performers who have already ‘made it’, or are well on their way.”

Debuting: Baritone Samson Setu

This year’s ‘super six’ includes two soporanos, Maltese-born Carla Camilleri, who’s also a name in jazz and musical theatre, and Amelia Berry, one of the stars of 2021’s Twilight Opera.

They’ll be joined by mezzo-soprano Tayla Alexandra, who performs both opera and classical crossover and has appeared as a solo guest with SOL3 MIO, and tenors Oliver Sewell, who also performed in Queenstown at 2021’s event, and Shiddarth ‘Sid’ Chand.

Sewell’s rich, burnished voice has featured at legendary venues like New York’s Carnegie Hall and Manhattan’s Lincoln Centre, while Chand, a Kiwi-born Fijian-Indian, is one of the new talents snapped up by the Opera Studio.

The lavish Samoan baritone voice of Samson Setu completes the performance group, supported by South Korean-born pianist Somi Kim.

Rea says they’ll perform a “popular selection” programme on stage, with the Remarkables mountain range as the backdrop.

Concert-goers can bring their own picnics, or order hampers through Taste and Savour to be picked up on site.

Plastic chairs will be available, or people can bring their own – seating’s available from 4.30pm, with the concert, going ahead “regardless of the weather”, starting from 5pm.

‘Twilight Opera’, Sunday, February 12, Springwater Garden, 70 Lower Shotover Road. ACAS members $70, general admission $80, children 16 and under, free. Tickets from Arrowtown Pharmacy, Eventfinda, or by phone on 0800 289 849

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