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Gondolas in Venice

Stephen Diaz, Joel Amosa, Pasquale Orchard, Tim Carpenter after the Concert at Villa Petrolo, Tuscany.


October 2019

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.

We were thrilled to have Dame Malvina Major with us again. She observed at first hand how committed the young New Zealand performers were and the value of the programme. Soprano Pasquale Orchard came from Manchester, counter tenor Stephen Diaz from Belgium, bass-baritone Joel Amosa from Auckland and conductor and vocal coach Tim Carpenter from Hamilton, Each day they had intensive language lessons with our favourite language teacher from nearby Siena and individual coaching with Maestro Wyn Davies.

Our Concerts in the Villa in Tuscany and Guastalla near Parma were triumphs with our performances of solos and duets from Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. We love seeing members of the Italian audiences weeping copiously after our “Pokarekare ana” (in Tim Carpenter’s arrangement written especially at Villa Petrolo).

“My time spent on the tour will be with me forever. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am so grateful to be given the opportunity to attend. Sightseeing a bit of Parma and attending the Nabucco was a particular highlight for me. I did feel a bit emotional when visiting the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi because I felt a lot of history and spiritual connection to the composer. The tour pf Pavarotti’s home was also quite thrilling. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be standing in his home and seeing all of his achievements. Everything exceeded all expectations and really re-ignited the passion for why I do what I do in the singing world. “ Joel Amosa, bass-baritone

The singers were very grateful for scholarships received from generous individuals and the 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, OMRI