Russell Smythe is a gentle unassuming man who looks the epitome of an Englishman - except he's not.

This international voice tutor from the Royal College of Music in London is in fact of Scottish/Irish descent.

Smythe is teaching at the New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate School and after just a few days his students are thrilled and say this softly spoken man is inspiring and they "love him already''.

Smythe, who stayed for three days north of Auckland before travelling to Whanganui, is totally enamoured of his first experience in New Zealand.

Advertisement

"It is my first visit to the southern hemisphere and I just love it. What a beautiful place.''

He waxes lyrical about the warm weather saying it is a heavenly visit so far and he's sad it will fly by all too soon.

After coming from London which was -2C and drear, he is now rising each morning at 5am and going for a long cycle armed with his camera.

"Cycling is the best exercise to set you up for the day ahead and I have already photographed wonderful scenery here ... the river, the bush and the birds, there is so much beauty.''

Smythe retired after nearly 40 years on the professional opera stage including performing at the Frankfurt Opera, Paris Opera, Vienna Volksoper and Opera de Lyon as well as most of the main opera houses in Europe.

As well as lecturing and teaching at the Royal College of Music, Smythe teaches choral scholars at Kings College, Cambridge.

He also has a busy private studio with students singing on most of the prestigious opera and concert stages around the world.

He says he can't believe he has been so fortunate to have been brought out to the New Zealand Opera School.

Advertisement

"I am so grateful to be here on such a beautiful school campus and part of school with so many talented and eager students.''