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Gondolas in Venice

Deputy Ambassador - Joanna Heslop, Jonathan Eyres, Marlena Devoe, H.E. Ambassador Patrick Rata, Natatsha Wilson, Maestro Peter Lockwood, Patricia Hurley.


October 2017

Patricia Hurley has been organising her Masterclasses and Concerts for New Zealand opera singers in the beautiful 18th century Villa Petrolo in Tuscany since 2002. Over 60 of New Zealand’s top young opera singers have attended this unique course, performing to Italian audiences in stunning locations, and visiting places associated with the great Italian composers and their iconic opera theatres.

Because learning Italian is so necessary for opera singers and because there are limited learning opportunities in New Zealand, Patricia, after being manager of the Wellington opera company and with a background as an Italian speaker and living in Italy, decided to seek opportunities for singers to be introduced to the birthplace of opera, its language and culture and to perform on Italian stages.

This year our performers were sopranos Marlena Devoe and Natasha Wilson, mezzo soprano Bianca Andrew and Jonathan Eyers, baritone. Each day they had intensive language lessons with our favourite language teacher Giancarla Bindi from nearby Siena and individual coaching with Maestro Peter Lockwood, New Zealand’s foremost vocal coach in Europe who has worked with Netherlands Opera for very many years.

Our three Concerts in the Villa in Tuscany, the nearby town of Montevarchi and the New Zealand Embassy in Rome, were triumphs with our performances of solos and duets from Handel, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini.

“The concerts were nerve-wracking because we were singing in the native tongue of the audience. There were lovely compliments afterwards, the best in my view was when a local told us that our “accents were perfect”. All concerts had us performing “pokarekare ana” as our encore, which saw many tears flowing in the audience: New Zealanders and Italians alike.” (Natasha Wilson)

The singers were very grateful for scholarships received from the Greenlea Foundation Trust and Dame Malvina Major Foundation.

In 2007 Patricia was awarded the Italian honour of Cavaliere, Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, for services to the promotion of culture between Italy and New Zealand.

Cav. Patricia Hurley