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Thousands Get A Close Shave



Friday 11 July 2003

Arrivederci from the cast of The NBR New Zealand Opera's winter tour of The Barber of Seville - who swopped the SS Siviglia for a cruise on the high seas aboard a less glamorous vessel before the show docked at its final port in Greymouth. The NBR Winter Tour of The Barber of Seville performed to 17,500 people across 12 centres on the first nationwide tour by a professional opera company in over 20 years.

From left - back row: Benjamin Makisi (The Count), Richard Green (Dr Bartolo). Middle: Andrew Conley (Figaro), Barry Colman (publisher, The NBR, and tour sponsor), Cushla Martini and Alex Reedijk (General Director, The NBR New Zealand Opera), Andrea Creighton (Rosina), Jason Barry-Smith (Figaro), Geoffrey Hughes (Don Basilio). Seated, front: Susan Boland (Bertha), Katherine Wiles (Rosina).


Arrivederci! - We will be back! - is the promise from The NBR New Zealand Opera as the final curtain fell on the final performance of the company's first nationwide opera tour of The Barber of Seville this week.

Rossini's greatest hit saw professional opera back on the road for a nationwide tour for the first time in over twenty years, cutting a trail through twelve centres in just under three months. Thirty-three performances later, some 17,500 Kiwis pulled up a chair for a close shave with the razor-sharp barber - and did so in their own backyard.

The NBR Winter tour marks a milestone for both The NBR New Zealand Opera and opera in this country, with the return of an opera touring season. Now, riding on the tour's success, opera company head, Alex Reedijk, is determined to make a national opera tour an annual arts fixture and is on a mission to get funding in place to make it happen.

"Last year we decided it was time to stop talking about the possibilities of touring and get on with making a New Zealand opera tour a reality again after quarter of a century," he said. "Our aim was to take opera to a wider audience and give more Kiwis an opportunity to experience the magic of live opera close to home. We have now fulfilled that and are really encouraged by the enthusiastic and welcoming response we received at every centre visited."

"People have come out and supported us, so much so that we had to schedule additional performances in two centres to meet ticket demand."

Mr Reedijk said the decision to mount a regional tour was inspired by similarly successful tours staged by other New Zealand arts companies such as the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the NZ Actors Company. The company was familiar with similar touring models from major overseas opera companies, and drew upon the expertise of boutique touring opera company, Class Act Opera, co-partners for The Barber tour.

"It's important to remember that this was as much an 'R&D' tour, to gauge the appetite outside of the main centres for live, professional opera performance and for us to get to grips with touring further afield," he said. "It's exceeded our expectations on several levels including audience attendances, the warmth of reception received in each centre, the logistics of touring for the company and a reminder to people about why they can, and should, get excited about live opera performance."

Mr Reedijk said the tour had only been made possible through financial support from The National Business Review as overall tour sponsor, local season sponsors and audiences who came out and bought tickets.

"We are enormously grateful to Barry Colman from The NBR who came on board with our vision," Mr Reedijk said. "The tour would not have been possible without them. Overall, the tour's success fuels our determination to make it an annual event and to embrace more centres in the future."

Mr Reedijk attributed success of the tour to the popularity of The Barber of Seville with its memorable tunes and fun, fast plot. He also paid tribute to the high calibre cast, crew, orchestra players and creative team.

The NBR Winter tour of The Barber of Seville visited Hamilton, Gisborne, Wellington, Kapiti, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Hawke's Bay, North Shore, Auckland, Tauranga, Nelson and Greymouth. Directed by Carmel Carroll and conducted by Michael Vinten, the cast included Jason Barry-Smith, Andrew Conley, Andrea Creighton, Katherine Wiles, Benjamin Makisi, Richard Green, Geoffrey Hughes, Susan Boland and Terry Barry.


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