Opera lunch for all

Anna and Angus Simmons. Photo: John Borren.

You may not be familiar with the words of a Brindisi chorus in Verdi’s popular 1853 Opera, La Traviata, but nonetheless the sentiments are apt for a social event with a difference.

How about a three-course buffet lunch, a glass of bubbles, very special guest singers and a chance to win a House of Travel voucher – all included in your ticket, while seated in the glamorous Memorial Park venue that is Daniels at the Park.

It’s posh enough to make ladies want to dust off the fur stole and gentlemen to wear a bow tie, which is not mandatory of course.

The Opera Lunch on Sunday, August 2, is a Tauranga Opera Forum fundraiser event for Tauranga Students’ singing scholarships. Started in 2013, TOF meets monthly for a screening of professional opera performances.

“Due to lockdown, we are extremely lucky to have renowned husband and wife opera singers Angus and Anna Simmons still in Tauranga,” says TOF Scholarship committee member Ali Woodwick.

Angus is a 2019 emerging artist with the New Zealand Opera and Anna is a studio artist with the company.

High calibre singer Glenese Blake will also be singing. Winner of the inaugural Dame Sister Mary Leo scholarship, Glenese went on to add a string of successes throughout her performing and teaching career and was awarded the only Voice Fellow in New Zealand.  

Familiar to audiences and singing students in Tauranga, Jan Beets will also perform for at the Opera Lunch. Rounding out the event will be singer Dr Wendy Coster and pianist Leon Gray. By day, you will find Wendy healing patients at the Farm Street Family Health Centre. On performance nights, the stethoscope is side-lined as she enjoys singing at charity events, concerts, choirs, musical theatre and competitions. Wendy was one of only four in New Zealand to receive the Exhibition Award for her Trinity College singing exam.

Then of course, the vitally important performance accompanist, without who, concert singers may seem rudderless. Pianist Leon Gray is also well known in the Bay of Plenty for a number of years as a musical director, vocal coach, choir director and concert reviewer. 

Every year, a concert is held for Tauranga scholarship hopefuls. Experienced judges decide on winners and the prizes are designed to provide for 12 months singing tuition. Last year’s winner, Ella Patterson will perform at the Opera Lunch.

TOF is deeply appreciative of their principal financial supporter, the Kathleen Dorothy Kirby Charitable Trust.

“Without that and others, including The Legacy Trust, our scholarship programme would be severely hampered,” says Ali.

What better venue to hear opera interludes, during three-course dining, from these accomplished performers than in the elegant surroundings of Daniels in The Park, on Sunday, August 2, starting at 11.30am.

Tickets $50 each from Bureta Pharmacy; House of Travel, Spring Street; or phone John on: 027 284 9738. No door sales.


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