What people say – Ihitai ‘Avei’a Star Navigator

We are delighted that all three performances of Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator sold out and received standing ovations.  The response to this work is staggering and we are grateful for all the wonderful messages we are receiving. From our current supporters and benefactors to our new audience members and from the Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage to our principal funders CNZ. It is as if the subject of this new work itself is replicated in bringing us all together. And it demonstrates the huge power possible in the Kaupapa for New Zealand Opera.

In all the time that I sat in orchestras and dedicated myself to the discipline of music, this was the first time I had ever seen a story of a Polynesian Ancestor told in our indigenous language (Tahitian) on the world opera stage. Ihitai’avei’a (Star Navigator) tells of the voyage of an unsung hero – Tahitian navigator Tupaia, and the infamous Captain James Cook who together explored the Pacific in the 1700s. The tapestry of traditional instruments, choir, and orchestra weaved together signified a unification of cultures and the beauty of both common and contrasting values. It was particularly moving to hear the name of my ancestor – Tutaha recalled through the voice of Tupaia, both of whom lived some 300 years ago. Maururu roa New Zealand Opera for telling our story and putting our people and culture front stage and center. Big moves for our people in this space.

Sarah Laban-Fale, Auckland

I have experienced standing ovations in leading European opera houses, but I have never witnessed anything like the response to Ihitai’Avei’a Star Navigator. It was as if the cries of anguish and relief were wrung from our souls. Célestine Hitiura Vaite’s prayer for this piece came to pass. She said:  May you be profoundly touched, the soul, Turn to us all. The reason I am writing to you is that those who experienced this concert were not only profoundly touched, we were transformed.

–  Mary Jaksch, Nelson

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL INVOLVED  with this triumphant production:  A new genre for Opera and we hope it goes far and wide.

Audience feedback

Keep telling the South Pacific narratives, the narratives of the landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes and especially the narratives that have not yet been told of the people of the South Pacific pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary – the time in global history is perfect for this to develop and happen. CONGRATULATIONS to NZ Opera!!!

Audience feedback

Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator is about a journey, but behind the scenes, NZ Opera is on a journey too – a journey to re-imagine opera within the Aotearoa New Zealand context.  How proud I am as a Pacific New Zealander to see the recognition of our pacific uniqueness and our stories, in opera.

– Minister Sepuloni

Read Minister Sepuloni’s full speech on opening night: Speech at NZ Opera’s Ihitai’Avei’a – Star Navigator

“The production was lent much quality by the sheer vocal virtuosity of the three singers. Paul Whelan’s imperious haughtiness gave glossy and grave tones to the character of Captain Cook. Natasha Wilson as Purea proved yet again to be one of Aotearoa’s most glorious sopranos with her glittering resonant tone. And as the main character, Amitai Pati as Tupaia delivered effortless phrases with beauty and warmth throughout his vocal range, even popping out a top C (?) in the first ten minutes on stage. Bravo to these artists of Aotearoa, we have much talent here. Not to mention an astonishing performance from the acolyte Teata played by young H’zel Hetaraka. So much poise and gravitas in this debut.” – Clare Martin Classical Chronicals

Read Clare’s full review here:  NZ Musician.co.nz

We are grateful to the Dame Malvina Major Foundation for supporting young Pasifika Director Antonia Kamu with the Peter Lees-Jeffries Memorial Scholarship, allowing her to work with us on this project. Read more here: Memorial scholarship for young Pasefika director