Participation round up

Participation round up

If you have been following our emails and content on The Marriage of Figaro, you will be familiar with our performers and the creative team that made this production so special.

What often flies under the radar is the huge amount of activity that our Participation tīma put together for the wider community supporting our main scale operas. For a team of two full time and one part-time it is impressive to look back at the activities they create.


Working in partnership with Foundation North, over 200 people saw The Marriage of Figaro. We were able to invite 60 first-time opera attendees from within Tāmaki Makaurau to visit and tour our Parnell studio. Those visiting got to see the real behind the scenes elements that go into putting on a large-scale production before coming and joining us at a performance at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre! As part of this initiative, we were also able to invite 139 students and their teachers from nine schools all over Northland to the matinee performance on Sunday 13 June (with some spending over ten hours in a car/bus there and back just to be with us!).

Here is some feedback from our Foundation North Community members:

“…Honestly, everything we experienced was great! I have never been able to see what goes on behind the curtains of these type of productions. We were very impressed!”

“A great insight into how much happens prior to the production. All presented to us with joy and enthusiasm! Thank you!”

“…It was a fantastic opportunity and certainly increased my overall interest and keen anticipation for the performance coming up soon!”


During the season we invite the public to the pre-show talks where key creatives, this year being Zoe Zeniodi (Conductor) and Eleanor Bishop (Assistant Director), and Joel Amosa (singing the role of Antonio) provide further content and insights on the production from their perspective. These talks are often full and thoroughly enjoyed by the participants.


Our Dress Rehearsal is a valued opportunity for rangatahi and kaiako to see encounter large scale opera, and engage in learning at school, using our popular resource pack which can enhance and extend their music education throughout the year.

Other activities included our student engagement and back-stage tours. These invited high school and university music students, as well as students interested in a career in the Performing Arts, to meet and see up close the creative team, cast, and crew in action before performing to an audience. This helps to provide industry insight and fosters interest in a career in the arts.

New Zealand School of Music students at The Marriage of Figaro Dress Rehearsal in Wellington


We also supported two tertiary Masterclasses –  Masterclass in Wellington with Bianca Andrew and pianist Bruce Greenfield at NZSM and a Masterclass with Kristen Darragh and Andrew Crooks at the University of Canterbury. These are open classes and music students are inspired through these encounters.


Our audiences also comprised members from the blind and low vision community (our highest response to date!) who were able to participate in a Touch Tour before esperiencing an Audio Described performance. This was made possible with the support from Stout Trust,  Nicola Owen and Kevin Keys at Audio Described Aotearoa Ltd and our venue partners, as well as the generosity of our cast and crew backstage.  Here is some feedback:

“Hi there, On behalf of myself and The Blind and Low Vision group, I just want to thank you all for inviting us to the Opera and the Touch tour.  We all enjoyed every single bit of the opera and of course the Touch Tour. We also want to thank you for the Audio Description as well.”

“It was very helpful for us!  Especially for the people who are totally blind.  I would love to come to another opera again because I love Opera Music. From the bottom of my heart 110 per cent.  Thank you once again!”


Open Day is also a local community event that can take a lot of extra time and effort for all the company and this year was no exception. After having the previous year’s Open Day postponed and then cancelled due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we were excited to open our doors to the public once more. Our Open Day includes open rehearsals with the cast of the opera, make-up, and wig demonstrations where we invite interns to provide demonstrations and some costume insights with our Head of Wardrobe and other activities and displays in the foyer. It is a popular event that attracts families and people who are excited to see behind the scenes, meet the cast and see them in action for the first time during a rehearsal.

A huge set of activities from both the Participation and the Development branch of the organisation had a steady stream of events planned for Wellington which were devastatingly cancelled at the very last minute due to a change in COVID-19 alert levels in Wellington on the opening night of the first performance. We did however manage a Dress Rehearsal with 154 people over 12 schools and a backstage visit for music students from NZSM to observe a rehearsal.

When asked for some highlights our Participation Manager Andrew Gordon said he was thrilled with having a larger number of first-time participants this year especially engaging with the backstage and studio tours. Andrew says, “…people are astonished at the world backstage and what is involved in staging an opera of this scale. Many comment that they now understand the expertise and commitment required to put on an opera. They develop a new appreciation for the art form and all the people, talent and skills involved in opera. They love it!”

If you would like to be part of any of these events or need to contact us, please use the email provided here: