Tag Archives: Royal Opera House

A Really Special Sunday

The Supper Club

Click to read about the Supper Club

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.

Bouquet of roses

For the organisers of such a fantastic evening.


Related Posts

A Year of Firsts

‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.
Lewis Carroll , Through the Looking Glass.

The year was 1956 – how long ago I hear you gasp.  And are there really people alive today who can remember that far back?  Well yes and I am one of them.

Several things that happened that year make the year stand out as a Year of Firsts.

I had left school the year before and celebrated my 18th birthday in 1956.  The First Birthday now freed from the confines of school and so frightfully grown up and independent  – although still living at my parents’ house as one did in those far off days.  No flatting for us!

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole 1919 - 1965

A few days before my birthday I became Engaged to be married.  So, First Engagement.  Nat King Cole sang ‘Too Young” but 2 eighteen year olds knew better.  We had a great party inviting all our friends and relations, as I was the first one amongst the cousins to become engaged.  I sported a very large 5 diamond ring and thought I was just the happiest girl in the world.

However, we were Too Young and the engagement fizzled out quite soon and the next year I met and married my Dashing Young Scotsman.

Royal Opera House

via Wikipedia

My fiance’s mother and stepfather were classical music aficionados while my parents were more light, contemporary musicals.  So that year with his parents,  I saw my First Opera at Covent Garden aka The Royal Opera House  and my First Classical Music Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.  And I shall be forever grateful to these two people for introducing me to both opera and classical music.

Dancing class

Dancing class from my sister

I had been very keen on ballet having studied for many years.  So I  had seen a couple of ballets but they took me on my First Visit to Saddlers Wells.  At that time, Saddlers Wells was synonymous with the ballet.  Since that time the The Royal Opera House has been home to both the ballet and the opera.

Nut cutlets

My fiance’s mother and step-father were vegetarians.  This was very rare some 45 years ago and there were very few vegetarian restaurants.  Fiance’s mother was very resourceful and always managed to find a vegetarian restaurant close by the venue.  So then my First Visit to a Vegetarian Restaurant and my First taste of nut cutlets.  One must remember that nobody was experimenting with vegetarian food then and it was bland, tasteless, uninspiring and uninviting.  It certainly didn’t convert me to vegetarianism.

So in all 1956 stands out as a year of firsts and though I have moved on so far since those far off days, I still remember the visits to the opera, orchestra and ballet with those people.  Incidentally, even though I broke off the engagement my ex-fiance, my Dashing Young Scotsman and I remained friends for many years.  I wonder what happened to him.

But 1956 was not just a big year for me.  Here are some of the other things (rather more world shattering and changing) that happened that year :

  1. John Lennon (15) & Paul McCartney (13) meet for 1st time as Lennon’s rock group Quarrymen perform at a church dinner.
  2. 85th British Golf Open: Peter Thomson shoots a 286 at Hoylake England
  3. Last Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent
  4. Egypt seizes Suez Canal and British government  sends 3 aircraft carriers to Egypt
  5. England retain cricket Ashes, Jim Laker 46 wickets in the series
  6. Tanks are deployed against racist demonstrators in Clinton, Tennessee
  7. Great Britain performs nuclear test at Maralinga Australia
  8. Stravinsky’s “Canticum Sacrum,” premieres in Venice
  9. First transatlantic telephone cable goes into operation (Scotland/Canada)
  10. England’s first large-scale nuclear power station opens
  11. 16th modern Olympic games opens in Melbourne, Australia
  12. Nelson Mandela & 156 others arrested for political activities in South Africa
  13. Japan admitted to UN
  14. Montgomery, Ala, removed race-based seat assignments on its buses
  15. Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog,” single goes to #1 & stays #1 for a record 11 weeks (for a single)
  16. Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column 1st appears in newspapers
  17. Britain abolishes death penalty
  18. “My Fair Lady” opens at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC for 2,715 performances
  19. Soap operas “As the World Turns” & “Edge of Night” premiere on TV
  20. Grace Kelly marries Prince Ranier III of Monaco.

Do you have a year of particular memories, firsts or whatever that makes it stand out?  I would love to hear from you.