Samoa is set to welcome the New Year tonight with a magical evening – especially for people with tickets to the Opera Under the Stars – as they will be serenaded by some of the finest voices in the Pacific.
Among them is the winner of the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bongyne Bel Canto Award, Marlena Ott Devoe, who is in the country especially for the concert to be staged at the St. Therese Retreat Centre at Leauva’a.
Although she is New Zealand born, Ms. Devoe is a fiercely proud Samoan who also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Italian and German.
“It’s always a pleasure to sing in Samoa,” she said.
“I think Opera is something that’s quite popular in New Zealand and its quite popular with Polynesians singers. It would be great if we could educate young singers here in Samoa with this type of music.”
Ms. Devoe said Samoans are natural singers and with the right training, opera could easily take off.
“I think you need a teacher here someone who is passionate about Opera,” she said. “Because Polynesians have the voice. If you go to any church, you can hear that anyone is Samoa can sing.
“And they’re musically inclined always, they harmonize naturally and it’s actually quite special. I think it’s something that’s part of who we are. And when they ask me to come sing, of course I’ll do it. And it’s fun and I get to see family. It’s just nice to be home.”
The performance repertoire tonight will feature classics like Ave Maria, La Danza and Pie Jesu.
But expect a Samoan twist with a few features like Faafetai Le Atua, O Sole Mio, We Are Samoa, and much more on the line up.
The evening will be hosted by Tuilagi Igelese Ete. He is a renowned award winning musical director and has worked in some of the movie industry’s best films.
Recently, Tuilagi was choirmaster for the Disney Movie, Moana.
His choir at the University of the South Pacific- “Pasifika Voices” from Fiji were the official session choir for the entire movie. Together with Te Vaka created the choral sounds of much anticipated Pacific Animation which is now inspiring the world globally.
Proceeds from this event will help fund a choir competition known as the Coral Festival sometime next year. This competition will hopefully revive the youth’s involvement in music and reveal another pathway to success through tapping into their musical abilities.
Tuilagi said he is excited about this.
“That’s one of the major missions for us after talking with the Archbishop. We want to encourage the young people to step forward.
“In the opera world, there are a lot of young singers especially of Pacific Island and Samoan descent. That’s something we will encourage for this production as well to fundraise for a choir competition for the Catholic Church as well.”
STARS OF TONIGHT
Marlena Ott Devoe, Joel Amosa, Kalauni Pouvalu, Ipu Laga’aia, Anotinette Alena Tuipe’a, Paul Lavea, Kilika Leavasa