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Festival News - Less Than Three Weeks Til Opening

27 February - 21 March 2004

In this issue:

Things are really hotting up around here. Yesterday we had a very moving and positive start to rehearsals for The Prophet led by our Maori Coordinators, Em and Whare Wano. Everyone was there including writer, Hone Kouka and family, co-producers Taki Rua and the Festival and the wonderful creative team and cast lead by director Nina Nawalowalo.

Many cast members from the original installment of the trilogy, Waiora, attended including the very funny (and now famous) Rawiri Paratene. It was a very moving moment when the father of new actor Maria Walker spoke of his pride in his daughter for having won her part through a series of grueling auditions. Make sure you see the Prophet in which the grandchildren of the characters in Waiora make the change from childhood to adulthood.

Tomorrow we release a flyer/poster, Toi Tu, Toi Ora, celebrating the Maori artists in the Festival. It's a very good looking publication with a heap of information on the back. Also out soon is the Toyota Festival Everyday Guide, a quick reference what's on guide that will will fit in any pocket or handbag.

Out in the workshop they're flat tack. After Mrs Rochester and 12 Angry Men sets are finished and The Elixir of Love is getting very close. Talking of Elixir, rehearsals are going extremely well. It was wonderful to hear director Daniel Slater talk to the members of the chorus and explain to each of them the individuality of each of their characters and the props they'd have to complement this. The singers are doing amazingly - last night I heard just a little of Riccardo Novaro (introducing himself as 'Ricky One') - what a fabulous voice. Early this morning conductor Graeme Jenkins arrived along with Riccardo Botta - so the full complement is in town.

A special note to Leslie and Marian Bravery and Margot Basilisco for their message thanking us for bringing Carmen Linares to the Festival. It is not often someone writes to thank us for bringing a particular artist so it was very nice to receive your message. Carmen Linares genuinely is one of the world's best flamenco singers (this is not advertising speak). We saw her at the Seville Flamenco Festival and she sent shivers up our spines with her singing - and her band is pretty hot too.

So it is hot, hot, hot around here in more ways than one. The National Ballet of Spain tickets are running out the door and many of the Heineken Festival Club shows are close to selling out - so get in now and purchase your tickets.

Carla van Zon, Artistic Director

David Inns, Chief Executive


A gathering at Te Papa tonight will celebrate the depth and diversity of Maori talent on show at this year's Festival and launch a poster/flyer highlighting Maori arts. Hone Kouka, Mahinarangi Tocker, Hinewehi Mohi, Fat Freddy's Drop, Witi Ihimaera and Tai Royal are among the 2004 artists to have taken art with a Maori influence to the world stage.


Christchurch-born barritone Paul Whelan arrived back in New Zealand this week to play his first major opera role in this country. Paul studied at the the Wellington Conservatorium of Music before winning the Leider Prize in the 1993 Cardiff Singer of the World. He went on to conquer the exclusive domain of international opera and overseas commitments have prevented him from performing on home turf until now. His impressive credits include lead roles with some of the most prestigious companies in the world; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Munich State Opera; English National Opera; Scottish Opera; Opera Australia and Zurich Opera.

In the Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love Paul plays Dulcamara, the Californian new age quack doctor whose love potion helps nerdy Nemorino win the affections of babelicious Adina.

Photos of Paul Whelan arriving at Wellington Airport

The Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love


Last week it was a Harley-revving biker chick (congratulations to Katie Gorczynski who won the part), this week the opera people are hunting for props. The Telecom Opera The Elixir of Love is set in a 1980s Californian high school. Props person Natalie Gyles has compiled a wanted list that includes Rubik's Cubes, Walkman cassette players and old schoolbags. "The kind of thing people would throw out before giving to a second hand shop."


Mobil Oil New Zealand, the founder and organiser of the Mobil Song Quest, has announced that it will be handing ownership and management of the popular event to the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

"In the 20th year of presenting the country's premier arts festival, the New Zealand International Arts Festival is delighted to be adopting the country's premier singing competition," says Fran Wilde, Chair of the NZ International Arts Festival.

In its 48 year history the Mobil Song Quest has featured a "who's who" of New Zealand opera talent and provided a springboard for the careers of singers such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, Christopher Doig, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Jonathan Lemalu.


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