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Christchurch City Council Media Release

SummerTimes A festival of free entertainment.

5 February, 1998

Fine music and fancy picnics for outdoor opera event.

SummerTimes Candlelight Opera

Saturday 27 February, 8.00pm to 10.00pm, North Hagley Park


For the seventh, audiences at the SummerTimes Candlelight Opera in North Hagley Park on Saturday 27 February will be treated to a sumptuous selection of fine music to enjoy with their elaborate picnics.


This year’s event features music from many familiar operas such as Carmen, The Pearl Fishers, Turandot, Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly, as well as pieces from more recent works, including Porgy and Bess, The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance and Les Miserables.


The Candlelight Opera has been an annual highlight of the SummerTimes festival since 1993. In that time the event has featured many local and international opera soloists including Dame Malvina Major and Sir Donald MacIntyre. This year’s soloists are Sue Braatvedt, Dwayne Jones, Suzanne Prain and Jonathan Lemalu.


The four will be accompanied by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Canterbury Opera Chorus and the Canterbury Opera Childrens Chorus. Jared Holt and Edmund Bohan will join them on stage the final piece of the evening’s programme, bringing the total number of people under the baton of conductor Brian Law to around 110.


While the performers perform, members of the audience are likely to be indulging in lavishly prepared picnics. In previous years some concert-goers have gone to great lengths to enjoy the event in style – to the extent of dressing in evening wear and setting up dining tables complete with candelabra. Anyone without the time or inclination to bring a picnic will still be well serviced with food and beverage stalls on site.


Once again a superscreen will afford a front row view to the whole audience. Funding for the screen has been generously provided by The Community Trust. Just after the intermission the audience will be invited to light their candles. It’s at this time that a truly enchanting atmosphere is created.


Site Information

Concert-goers can bring their own candles or buy one on site for $1. Programmes are also available for $1. Free secure cycle parking is available under the trees by the cycleway leading from the Armagh Street entrance. Car parking is available in two locations in North Hagley Park for $3.00. Entrances are off the westbound lane of Harper Avenue and the eastbound lane of Riccarton Avenue, gates open at 6pm and close at 11pm.




interviews with the soloists can be arranged through the SummerTimes Publicity Co-ordinator. For further information contact Katie Macbeth, on (03) 941 8495, (025) 227 2916 or email: (




Brian Law - Conductor

Born and educated in England, Brian Law emigrated to Canada in 1965 where he was central to the musical life of Ottawa for over a quarter of a century. He was Music Director of The Ottawa Choral Society and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. In 1991 he moved to New Zealand to become Music Director of the Christchurch City Choir. In his new home he has rapidly assumed a similar significant artistic role. In Christchurch, as well as the City Choir, Brian Law is Principal Conductor of Canterbury Opera and he regularly conducts for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia and has conducted both of these orchestras for seasons of Petrouchka, Giselle and Nutcracker. He has recently conducted Eugene Onegin for Canterbury Opera, the stadium production of Carmen in Auckland, a series of concerts in Ottawa, concerts at Cairo’s Opera House and at the Pyramids with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and Dame Malvina Major.


Sue Braatvedt - Mezzo Soprano

Sue Braatvedt is originally from South Africa. She was resident mezzo soloist with the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal between 1980 and 1986, winning two major opera awards. Highlights among her more than twenty opera roles include singing Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Maddalena in Rigoletto and a performance of Carmen broadcast on national television. Sue also sang many concerts and oratorio throughout South Africa. In 1986 Sue emigrated to the United States, where she performed as a soloist with the Boston Lyric Opera and Boston Academy of Music and appeared in concerts for the New York Grand Opera and at New York’s Lincoln Centre. Since arriving in New Zealand 18 months ago, Sue has quickly become established as a mezzo soloist, with performances at the Devonport Arts Festival, in Elijah in Rotorua, and at a concert for the Archbishop of Canterbury at Auckland Cathedral. In Australia last year Sue sang Santuzza in Melbourne Lyric Opera’s production of Cevalleria Rusticana before returning for the Christchurch City Choir’s Messiah. Sue will soon appear as Suzuki in Canterbury Opera’s next production, Madama Butterfly.


Dwayne Jones - Tenor

Born in Australia, Dwayne Jones studied voice under Dame Joan Hammond at the Victorian College of the Arts. After working as a young artist with the Lyric Opera of Queensland, Dwayne appeared in many productions with Victoria State Opera including the role of Hadjee in Lakme and Barney in workshops of Richard Mills’ Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. He has also appeared as Goro from Madame Butterfly in the Puccini spectacular in Melbourne and Sydney. In 1997 Dwayne was a Young Artist for Opera Australia and performed many roles including the Lamplighter in Manon Lescaut and the First Philistine in Samson & Delilah. In Sydney’s 1998 winter season Dwayne sang seven performances as Alfredo in Opera Australia’s La Traviata to great acclaim. Dwayne performs in concerts regularly. Recent highlights have included Melbourne Festival’s Opera on the Yarra, Channel Seven’s Christmas on the Steps of Parliament, Kurt Weills’ Seven Deadly Sins with the Melbourne Symphony and Verdi’s Requim with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic.


Suzanne Prain - Soprano

Dunedin-born soprano Suzanne Prain studied with Vincente Major, Bertha Rawlinson and Emily Mair and was a finalist in the Sydney Sun Aria in 1983. Since 1984 she has performed many roles with New Zealand opera companies, including Marguerite in Faust for Auckland Opera, Mimi in La Boheme, Gilda in Rigoletto and Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment with Wellington City Opera; Micaela in Carmen, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte and Desdemona in Otello for Canterbury Opera. Suzanne made her highly acclaimed Australian debut at short notice in 1993 when she took over the title role of Madama Butterfly for several performances in Australian Opera’s production at the Sydney Opera House. She has since returned to perform Countess in The Marraige of Figaro and repeated her acclaimed performances of the title role in Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia’s 1997 production. She will soon take up the role again in Canterbury Opera’s season of Madama Butterfly.


Jonathan Lemalu - Bass

Jonathan Lemalu began singing as a boy soprano in Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and appeared as a soloist in tours to Britain and Europe, including a solo debut at St Martin in the Fields, London. A pupil of Honor McKellar since 1994, Jonathan has had success in various competitions including winning the 1996 ODT Aria Contest and the Concert FM Prize of Radio New Zealand as well as being a finalist in the 1996 Mobil Song Quest. In 1997 he won the Dame Sister Mary Leo Scholarship and undertook a course of private study with distinguished British mezzo-soprano, Sarah Walker. His engagements last year included solo recitals in Salt Lake City and the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC.

After a period of vocal study in London, Jonathan was a soloist in the premieres of Classical Polynesia at the New Zealand International Arts Festival and From the Southern Marches with the Dundedin Sinfonia. Last year also marked his professional opera debut as Colline in La Boheme with the National Opera of Wellington. The highlight of 1998 for Jonathan was winning the 1998 Mobil Song Quest, judged by international bass-baritone, Tom Krause.


For further information contact the SummerTimes Publicity Co-ordinator,

Katie Macbeth, on (03) 941 8495,

or check the website at

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