Rosario La Spina is a little shaken, but not stirred as he takes on the tenor role for La Traviata, standing in just days before Tuesday's performance.

The Australian-born international singer has had to stand in after original tenor Shaun Dixon pulled out due to illness.

The first performance is on tomorrow and La Spina completed a final performance of The Flying Dutchman, had three hours' sleep and then flew into the country from Melbourne last Friday.

Conductor Jose Aparicio said they were hugely grateful that he could fill the role at such short notice.


"He's doing remarkably well, it's such a difficult thing to do at such short notice," he said.

La Spina said the whole process had been a slight "whirlwind" but he was thrilled to have been asked to fulfil the role.

"Everyone is so lovely and accommodating, they've just made me feel like I've been rehearsing the last couple of weeks. We're getting through it and the rehearsals so far have been going very well. I know we're going to put on a really great show for the audience."

Luckily, La Spina has played the role of Alfredo before, although it was five years ago.

The 49-year-old hasn't always been in the world of opera and was once a bricklayer before he had a serious accident while using an angle grinder.

"I was about 21 at the time and thought 'well, that's not the job for me anymore' so I packed it in. I had always been singing since I was a kid and my sister suggested I have another go at singing.

"I didn't think I had a chance, but gave it a go because she kept pestering me and I got into the conservatorium and studied in Queensland and got a scholarship to Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and then it just carried on from there."

La Traviata, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, is a love story shrouded in sacrifice and misunderstanding.


The story centred around Violetta Valery, a beautiful Parisian demimondaine and her relationship with Alfredo Germont.

La Spina remained valiantly calm for his upcoming performance and encouraged people to come along.

"I had just finished The Flying Dutchman in Melbourne and then got the call to come here. I love coming to New Zealand, any excuse to come," he said.

Performances will take place tomorrow, Thursday, Saturday and Monday at the Napier Municipal Theatre.

"Just come out and see the show, we've got a super young cast, who are fabulous singers and are doing an amazing job. It's just a great show and we hope to see everyone there."

Tickets for the show can be purchased via Eventfinda.