They are the hardest-working musicians in the country with a dedicated following of adoring fans.

Operatunity is New Zealand's most successful live-music company, presenting more than 200 daytime variety concerts each year.

The company started 17 years ago with just a few concerts for seniors in Auckland.

Now it's a major entertainment and travel-tour business, performing everything from Opera to rockabilly nationwide, and sometimes overseas.


Hastings was the home stop for resident artist, Karl Perigo on the recent Tennessee Waltz tour.

"This is our biggest tour in 15 years and that has been a complete sell-out everywhere," Perigo said.

"Our biggest audience to date was around 8000 but once we finish this particular concert series we'll be looking at 9500, maybe 10000 people."

There were eight touring concerts this year, that's 200 shows in 24 venues, each offering a veritable 'who's who' of New Zealand musicians.

On the Tennessee Waltz tour, even the sound technician is a musical luminary. Rikki Morris had a number one New Zealand single in 1988 with the pop ballad, Nobody Else and is working on a new album.

For the Tennessee Waltz tour, sisters and New Zealand country music legends, Marian Burns and Karen Davy featured.

But it's New Zealand Entertainer of the Year from 1970 and former Cat Stevens backing singer, Suzanne Lynch that probably pulled in the crowds.

"For me it is like touring in 1968," Lynch said. "I love it."


"To feel part of this family is fantastic. Also, it is great work for me because the audience are all my age group and have all seen C'mon and Happen Inn.

"And the number of people who come and say to me, 'I remember you when you were in The Chicks'... So it is just amazing for me to be able to perform to that age group, that knew me when I was a young 14-year-old as one of The Chicks.

Like all Operatunity artists, she does a lot more than play music, serving lunch and chatting with the audience after the show.

Operatunity is the only touring company catering to the strong demand for daytime entertainment, but there is yet another arm to the business.

It offers music-themed travel tours around the world, with Operatunity artists performing as both tour guides and entertainers.

"I just took 45 wonderful seniors on a 28-day luxury adventure all around Canada and then we finished it with a beautiful seven-night cruise around Alaska," Perigo said.


"Absolutely amazing. I have to pinch myself and think, this is my job."

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