New Zealand opera superstar Pene Pati said Sol3 Mio has not forsaken Whanganui.

It has been four years since the world famous trio performed here even though they have given concerts in other venues throughout New Zealand during the summer season.

Pene, who was on a flying visit to the New Zealand Opera School this week, said the group had not forgotten Whanganui and its people.

"Definitely not. The opera school was where we started four years ago and it's flown by.
It was a time we will never forget. That's where we learned how to develop thick skins to help us cope on the world opera stages and international schools.''

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He laughed when he said the three performed the Kiwi classic Ten Guitars onstage at the close of the school in 2011.

"All the school's students got up and performed on that last day. It was great, I will never forget it.''


The three singers were granted scholarships to the Cardiff Music Academy in Wales where they studied with world renowned singing coach Dennis O'Neill.

During their time there they decided to sing in the pubs around Cardiff to help pay their rent, he said.

"One night we performed we were approached by an agent for Universal Music who wanted to sign us up for a recording contract. We were stunned.''

That first album self-titled Sol3 Mio was a spectacular success and has gone platinum seven times.

Tenor Pene has been described as a young Pavarotti by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dennis O'Neill, and his current singing coach Professor Cesar Ulloa, chairman of music at the San Francisco Conservatoire.

Last year in what has been described as a "rare event'' Pene sang the major role of the Duke of Mantua in the San Francisco Opera's production of Verdi's Rigoletto.

Opera school founder and chairman Donald Trott said the role would launch Pene on to the world opera stage.

Pene was shocked and elated when he was asked to perform at the annual Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall in New York in December which is billed as New York city's event of the year.

"I am still amazed.''

Later this month he will perform for Festival Opera in Napier in Madam Butterfly, singing Pinkerton with colleague Toni Marie Palmertree from San Francisco singing Butterfly.

When he returns to San Francisco, now his home base, next month he will go on to the San Jose Opera's production of Rigoletto in California to reprise his role of Duke of Mantua.

Pene promised he will ensure Sol3 Mio returns to Whanganui later this year.

"We love our Whanganui audience and I will try to make sure we return.'