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Opera in Rarotonga returning with unique Pacific flavour

Thursday 5 October 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Entertainment, Features


Opera in Rarotonga returning with unique Pacific flavour
Motone Productions – The Creative Company directors Maurice “Mo” Newport (left) and Glenda Tuaine are re-launching Opera in Rarotonga. MELINA ETCHES/23093042

A unique and captivating musical experience is set to unfold on Rarotonga next week celebrating Pacific and contemporary songs in the timeless art form of opera.

The Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) “Opera in Rarotonga” event will feature powerful voices and emotive performances against the backdrop of the Tamarind House’s serene coastal scenery, over two nights.

In just a week’s time, the “stunning” opera talents of tenor Benjamin Fifitia Makisi (Samoa/Tonga), the beautiful mezzo-soprano Elisha Fai-So’oialo (Samoa) alongside the Cook Islands rising star tenor Ridge Ponini, will captivate audiences.

Motone Productions – The Creative Company team of musician, Maurice “Mo” Newport and film producer Glenda Tuaine, are hosting and re-launching the event.

Tuaine said: “I love seeing people who can sing with such incredible power and control; opera classics are beautiful. This a moment to celebrate our Pacific singers the beauty of what Moana Nui a Kiva can produce.”

“People can look forward to a really beautiful concert that allows for connections and people to absolutely appreciate the magnificence of opera trained voices.”

She noted that the “beautiful” aspect of this opera production lies in the return of two exceptional international singers, Makisi and So’oialo, who played pivotal roles in the early stages of developing “Opera in Rarotonga”.

Makisi was the very first Opera in Rarotonga singer and he made a significant impact by introducing opera to local schools.

During that time, Ponini, who was part of the Barbershop Quartet, was a student at Tereora College.

Ponini has now completed his degree, and is doing work with the national opera in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tuaine said Makisi is probably one of the most internationally touring and solid working tenors out of Aotearoa.

“He’s been on the circuit for a long time so he’s very well known internationally and performs all around the world, he’s going to be mind-blowing for people to see.”

Additionally, mezzo-soprano Fai-So’oialo joined Opera in Rarotonga some years back at the Crown Beach Resort, where she collaborated with Ponini and provided vocal guidance for his university auditions.

“Both these singers have had a beautiful influence to our singer Ridge, and now here he is part of the group,” said Tuaine.

“What we get to see is two incredibly seasoned and well-oiled professionals, but also, we get to see how skilled Ridge has become.

“To have those three on stage together is just a beautiful dynamic, it’s an amazing story and its just one that we’re really proud of.”

She expressed that ultimately Pacific Islands opera singers are “absolutely” leading the way internationally and that there is a big career out there for them.

“The community is in for a real treat to be able to hear these wonderful operatic classics,” said Tuaine.

As a treat, impromptu pop up operas will also be happening anywhere, at any time around the island.

The last opera event was held in 2019. Tuaine is appreciative of BCI for their continuous support in their projects, and thankful to the partner sponsors Air Rarotonga, Motu Villas and Island Car & Bike Hire, and Creative New Zealand.

Tickets are on sale now for the opera event that will be held on October 13 and 14 from 6pm to 9pm at Tamarind House, Tupapa.

Tuaine and her team will be selling tickets for the show only – dinner and meals are not included in the ticket price – at the Beachcomber Café today, Thursday, from 10am to 12 noon. Or you can book online at GORARO.COM or call phone 76111.

As part of the KukiCre8tive Performing Arts programme, the Opera Youth Vocal workshop will be held next Wednesday, October 11 at the Kent Hall in Titikaveka from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and in Aitutaki at the Araura College on Thursday, October 12 from 10.30am to 12.30pm.