Australia & New Zealand
Gilbert & Sullivan was my gateway "drug" to classical music and Opera. If it was not for my fateful wandering into an audition for a production of H.M.S. Pinafore at the University of Western Ontario in 1993 I would never have found my way into the classical music world or even of met my wife, who was in the chorus of that production. The Carl Rosa Opera which in my early career was my biggest employer having done around 750 performances for them,in 2004 asked if I wanted to do a production of H.M.S. Pinafore directed by the great British actor Timothy West, he was also to star as Sir Joseph Porter, well who wouldn't? Hitting all the major cities of Oz and NZ it was an easy answer. We spent two months travelling around both countries and it was an eye opening experience
Adelaide, Brisbane, Auckland, Wellington and Perth. There are highlights in every city but I have to say that the most spectacular part of my trip was in New Zealand. We were playing in Auckland at the spectacular Civic Theatre. A palace of a building in build in 1929 in the "Moorish Revival" style which really is like an homage to Aladdin, its a massive building with 2400 seats. The ceiling of the house has a star show build into it and it is a memorable place to perform. In London where I lived we had many Kiwi friends and one of my best friends was from Waiheke Island. Its a small Island and one of many virtually in Auckland harbour but once you get there could not be further away. Timothy West had told me about the Manuka Honey, the wine and a restaurant called the Mudbrick. My wife had been on business in Hong Kong and came and joined me in Auckland with our new son and we set off from Auckland not knowing what was instore. You take a ferry from Auckland Harbour and its a short ride over. When we arrived you have an option to rent a car to get around...which we did and set off on our adventure. We went for a wine tasting at the quaint and lovely Mudbrick winery and then decided we ought to have lunch. We could not have been more charmed. The food and the wine from the Mudbrick fit perfectly into this setting of green lush rolling hills and flowering Manuka Trees. In fact you will have seen this green paradise as it was the home of Bilbo Baggins and "The Shire" in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Lunch was thrilling as it captured the setting perfectly, the wine paired spectacularly. I think that more than anything I love to lunch much more than diner and this afternoon was the perfect expression of why. The dining room which has a brick floor and lots of wood and glass and a view of the Aukland Skyline was made even more perfect, and to the delight of my son, with the presence of a chicken who was about the same size as William. William and the Chicken seemed to have a thing going to the delight of other guests the chicken would steal Williams bread and he would squeal with delight. It came as no surprise that on an Island like Waiheke that the Islanders were very friendly and before we knew it fellow diners had invited us to their house to experience the real Manuka Honey and witness the vigour to which the bees of NZ love this plant. A Manuka is a type of bush or hedge that flowers and from it bees produce one of the most anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antioxidant anti-inflamatory honeys in the world. The honey is rated by "Kfactor" or MGO Number the bigger the number the more potent the honey. This stuff can be extremely expensive and it is also incredibly delicious, we are talking a good jar will set you back $200.00 and a highly rated pure jar can reach $1000's. It was a treat to experience it first hand and take away a jar straight from the hobby Apiarist. It turns out like on most all Islands they knew my friend in London who had lived there and knew his mother who recently moved to the Volcanic crater lake in the middle of the north Island Taupo. The rest of the afternoon we toured the Island and hit Onetangi Bay which my friend in London has bought a piece of land and I am desperate for him to build ...so I can use his house
This is greeat
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Opera tells the story of life. It sees beauty where others can't and exposes the ugly truth in what appears to be beautiful on the surface.