This upcoming opera season, Festival Opera will push boundaries with its showcase of the unmissable, spectacular double act Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.
The season will be part of the Napier Art Deco Festival, with four performances at the Napier Municipal Theatre on the February 18, 20, 22 and 24. Project Prima Volta (PPV) students will make up the chorus — an incredible opportunity for these young performers to learn from international artists. PPV supports up to 30 Hawke's Bay teenagers each year to learn performance opera.

We talked with Australian Italian tenor Rosario La Spina who will sing the role of Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci.

Can you describe the roles you are playing in Cav + Pag?

The two roles are quite different.
Turridu is a young impetuous man who feels that it's a good idea to have a relationship with a married woman who is also married to the most powerful man in the village and lying to his girlfriend about pretty much everything. Canio is a mature man who is married to a younger lady who he adores but she has interests elsewhere — things don't end well.

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I could say a lot more but that would just spoil it — it's very exciting!

What is your all-time favourite opera, why and have you performed in it?

It's always a tough decision to choose your favourite opera because there are so many great ones but I would probably lean towards Turandot because of its exciting music and wonderful drama.

If you weren't an opera singer, what do you think you would be?

Given I began my working life as a bricklayer, I probably would be running a small bricklaying/construction company.

Who's been your biggest inspiration in your career to date?

Luciano Pavarotti would have to be my greatest inspiration.

What's your favourite thing about Hawke's Bay?

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My favourite things about Hawke's Bay is the wonderful sea views and the spectacular wineries.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I am one of those rare creatures who doesn't use Facebook!

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

I love to see the reactions on people's faces when something they have seen and heard moves them — it's an amazing feeling.

I get to work with wonderful colleagues.

What can audiences expect to see when they come to Cav & Pag?

Passion, anger and some of the most beautiful and recognisable opera music ever written, which mirror real life situations.