Many rising Pacific Island opera singers have performed at the event in Rarotonga and Aitutaki over the years and are now rising international opera stars, with many performing in Europe, the US and Australia, says Motone co-director Glenda Tuaine.
“Many of our past and current BCI Opera in Rarotonga stars have placed or won the hugely-contested Lexus Song competition and our very own Ridge Ponini will be auditioning for the contest this year.
“This year we are excited to bring two stunning young male singers who not only are brilliant with voice, but are proficient musicians and will incorporate piano and guitar to the repertoire.”
Ipu Laga'aia is a young New Zealand Samoan tenor, who having sung in 2016 in Samoa as part of the Opera under the Stars event, is excited to be coming to Rarotonga to sing, Tuaine says. He is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in music and teaching.
“His passion for music came to light at the age of three - singing in the church, but his path narrowed toward classical music in his final year at Sacred Heart College in 2013.
“He is a part of the Kiri te Kanawa programme and is currently exploring the world of Opera and the opportunities it holds. He is making a name for himself in the Opera Quartet The Shades and has been a part of a number of classical groups such as the Auckland Chamber Choir and SOTO VOCE.
Performing alongside Laga'aia will be his Shades Quartet partner, William Mataka Vuni who is of Tongan and Samoan descent.
Known as “Taka”, he is a baritone who is studying for his Bachelor of Music degree at Auckland University. Over the years he has been a part of various choirs such as the Auckland Youth Choir, Auckland Chamber Choir, Klapa Samoana (an all-male acapella choir famous in Europe) and also part of The Shades Quartet with last year’s BCI opera stars, Manase Latu and Samson Setu. Taka conducts the St Peters and St Pauls college choirs, works part time as an itinerant music teacher at St Paul and St Peters College and is still under the tutelage of Dr Te oti Rakena. He is set to perform in a series of concerts in New Zealand over the coming year and aspires to one day sing on the famous stages around the globe
The BCI Opera in Rarotonga will be held on June 1 and 2 at the Islands Hotel dining pavilion and will feature not only opera classics, but also contemporary songs with an operatic twist.
“Many people travel annually from Australia and New Zealand for this event and for the past four years has been so popular, it has sold out,” Tuaine says.
Tickets cost $55.00 per person and include complimentary bubbles or juice and canapés on arrival. Entry costs $30.00 for children under 12.
“Without the support of our incredible sponsors and partners, BCI, CITC Liquor, Island Car and Bike Hire, GRD and Air Rarotonga who support us for our education programme to Aitutaki and The Islander Hotel, we would not have seen this event continue for nine years.
“But not only that, we have also been lucky to witness the rise of some of the opera world’s new stars.
“For example, Natasha Wilson, who performed in 2016, recently placed first in the Dame Malvina Major Aria competition and was one of the leads in Candide, by the New Zealand Opera Company.
“Filipe Manu, who performed that same year, won the Lexus Song Competition the following year. And Benson Wilson who performed in 2015 is now performing in the Marriage of Figaro as il Conte di Almaviva for the Boomsbury Opera in London and of course the wonderful Benjamin Makisi who was our very first Opera in Rarotonga star tours extensively throughout the world,” says Tuaine.
Tickets are on sale from May 10.