It was a very wet, cold and miserable Sunday night. I really would have preferred to stay in my nice warm house, with a book and a cup of coffee. But I had agreed to attend “An Evening With Simon O’Neill” a Supper Club fundraiser. The event was hosted in a private house and parking in these winding, hillside streets of Wellington is not easy, So we parked illegally in a Residents’ only parking area (and we got away with it!).
About 40 people turned up to be entertained by this singer and regally entertained we were. Simon is here to perform in the NZ Symphony Orchestra’s Die Walküre and we were lucky that he gave his time for this fundraiser. We are told that “Simon O’Neill has rapidly established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. A native of New Zealand, he is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala and both the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Bertrand de Billy, Donald Runnicles and Pietari Inkinen.” Source http://www.thearts.co.nz/artist_page.php&aid=39&type=bio. WOW!!
Not only did Simon sing for us, but he generously answered Aidan’s questions on a variety of interesting things. (Aidan Lang is the General Director of NZ Opera and another interesting person with whom to speak) Simon spoke reverently of Mr Pavarotti and told us of understudying Placido Domingo on several occasions. He made us laugh with a few light-hearted moments on the stage and in all showed what a truly nice person he is.
He told of his rise to fame and agreed that much of it was being in the right place at the right time. For instance he was in New York shortly after leaving New Zealand and landed a role at the Met.
In response to one of Aidan’s questions he talked about his role as Mao Tse-tung in the opera Nixon in China. This is one of the roles that he likes to talk about.
Throughout his performance Simon was accompanied by Bruce Springfield, the Head of Music Staff at NZ Opera. What a fantastic pianist is Bruce. In conversation later, he gave all the credit to Simon and the wonderful grand piano owned by the host. What a truly generous and self-effacing this man is.
Simon has just celebrated his 40th birthday so there will be many more occasions on which to see him and hear his wonderful voice.
So there you have it – More Opera. And we are so lucky to have the opportunity to see these first class opera Stars in close proximity. Simon and Bruce mingled amongst the guest after the performance and delighted each of us in turn once again.
- SF Opera’s Nixon Media Round-Up (operatattler.typepad.com)