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Lexus Song Quest winner returns

Media Release

31 January 2008

Lexus Song Quest winner returns for Pivotal role in The Trial of the Cannibal Dog

The Festival announces that the 2007 Lexus' Song Quest winner Philip Rhodes will star as the Maori Chief in the cast for the new New Zealand opera The Trial of the Cannibal Dog. Rhodes will perform along with renowned sopranos Debroah Wai Kapohe(Maori Queen) and Janet Roddick (Cooks wife, Elizabeth) and are joined by Australian baritone, Andrew Collis as Captain Cook.

Rhodes, who is currently at Cardiff's International Academy of Voice, is absolutely delighted to be included in such an innovative project which reunites him with the Festival family following his Lexus Song Quest win last year.

The cast of this New Zealand International Arts Festival commission has begun rehearsals this week in Wellington, the first of seventeen new commissions by the Festival to descend on Wellington in the build up to the opening on 22nd February.

"It is such a privilege to get the support and recognition from my win last year, and in such an exciting new commission celebrating New Zealand's unique history as well as acknowledging my Maori heritage," Rhodes said on hearing he had won the role, "not only is this a continued support for my career at home but also gives me an invaluable springboard for my international career." [Several visiting international festival directors and overseas media will also see the show.]

Trial of the Cannibal Dog is a contemporary operatic retelling of Dame Anne Salmond's Montana Award-winning book The Trial of the Cannibal Dog, detailing the remarkable story of Captain Cook's voyages and is underpinned by a rich social account of the cultural collision between the 18th-century explorers and the indigenous people of the South Pacific.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Festival, this new work is set for four principal voices and includes a small cross-cultural chorus of six singers, a chamber ensemble of string quintet, flute, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, trombone, percussion, and Taonga Purou. A chorus of seadogs and shoredogs are an integral part of the action throughout.

The costume design by Kate Horley makes a clear statement about the dramatic theatrical direction the creative team is taking for Salmond's story. The work on body prosthetics at the Weta workshop have already begun and Horley is certain that "the designs will be a talking point at interval".

Under the direction of Christian Penny, Matthew Suttor's appealing score will be conducted by Peter Scholes, with libretto written by John Downie. Rhodes, Wai Kapohe, Roddick and Collis will be joined by an outstanding line-up of local soloists and musicians from around New Zealand.

The Maori Shore Dogs will be performed by Gisborne-born Mere Boynton and Teina Moetara, Cooks Sea Dogs by Brendon Casey and Nigel Collins, Nick Dunbar and Hadleigh Adams who also plays the Officer.

There will be three performances of The Trial of The Cannibal Dog between 2-5 March at 7.30pm at The Opera House.

Anne Salmond and the creative team will take part in an Art Talk on 3 March at the Pacific Blue Festival Club at 1.15pm.


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