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Big Event In Asian Calendar To Benefit Hospital

16 May 2005

Big Event In Asian Calendar To Benefit Hospital

Cast members from the Cantonese Opera Society of New Zealand are rehearsing daily for a fundraising performance that will benefit Waitakere Hospital’s new baby unit.

The June concert is expected to raise more than $10,000 which will be donated through the West Auckland Health Services Foundation for a transport incubator for the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

The SCBU opens in July and will care for babies born at 32 weeks or 1500 gm or more. The incubator will allow the safe transfer of smaller babies to North Shore Hospital or National Women’s.

Opera society president Audrey Chan says the event is very important one in the Kiwi Asian calendar as Cantonese opera is a highly regarded form of entertainment.

“The event and the standard of New Zealand Cantonese Opera are so well regarded in China, that we have managed to attract Pang Chi Quan, one of the most famous opera singers in China,” says Mrs Chan.

“Several Asian and New Zealand dignatories, including the Chinese Consul General, are expected to attend and the level of support in the Asian community is high.”

Around 90 per cent of tickets have already been sold and past donations have come from as far afield as New York and Hong Kong, she says.

Rehearsals began six months ago with 23 cast members from all over Auckland practising around two hours each evening. The cast will start rehearsing full time about two weeks prior to the performance on June 5 at the Aotea Centre.

“The performance encompasses seven excerpts from traditional operas, requiring full face paint and ornate costumes. Some of the excerpts require two or three performers, with the largest involving 11 professionally trained opera singers. To aid understanding for Kiwis, there will be English synopses and also subtitles during the performances.”

Waitakere Hospital General Manager Rachel Haggerty says it is overwhelming to see the level of commitment and energy required for such performances.

“The performers have a gruelling rehearsal schedule and it is humbling to know that we will be the beneficiaries of all this incredibly hard work. It is very important to us as health providers to have close links with the various communities we serve, and this event encapsulates the kind of partnerships we strive for.”

The society holds the fundraising opera annually. Three years ago it raised over $30,000 for a defibrillator, foetal heart monitors and the establishment of a garden in the maternity area of the hospital. Other recipients include Karekare Surf Lifesaving Patrol.


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