Hurrah! The 2018 New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate is a symphony of glory and triumph.

Thank you founder and chairman Donald Trott, who is without question an elegant, exquisite man, an asset to Whanganui.

Last year a black fog descended on to our music world when Dame Kiri, who says she adores helping young opera students on to the world stages, pulled the plug on the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation funding to our much loved school here.

The funding was directed instead into her own smaller school for fledgling opera singers at Auckland University.


Donald took it in his stride and set about raising the funding for this 2018 school. No mean feat.

Undeterred and resolute that the school should not suffer, even though the blow had delivered a mighty sting, Donald headed into action.

Fully armed with his funding brief firmly in place he saved us by securing the Freemasons Foundation.

They don't want to be called sponsors: they say they are simply "supporters".

They pay for the international opera coaches to tutor at the school, covering the coaches' fees, flights and accommodation during the two weeks of the school, plus other expenses.

Already this year's school in Whanganui, with its 21 students and international tutors Prof Cesar Ulloa and Della Jones, is gathering extraordinary momentum.

It's almost as though everyone involved has said, "watch this space".

The school, now in its 24th year, has a sworn allegiance from all involved that this will be one of the finest schools ever.

You can feel it as you walk on to the grounds of Collegiate and hear the strains of music, and clear, wonderful young voices lifting the rafters throughout campus.

There's energy abounding and it is evident in everyone from the students, tutors, repetiteurs and administration staff. There's no holding this school back.

This opera school has become hallowed halls out of reach of our Dame now.

I know it's best to let go of the past but I remember last year when she left four students in bits after she had shredded them about not replying to her "Good morning" in the cafeteria.

In high dudgeon she had berated them to a state that those students, wounded to the core, had trudged miserably down the aisle of the Prince Edward Auditorium and on to the stage where a television camera crew was waiting.

Then Kiri publicly qualified her remonstrations that morning by telling us and the world that she had been beaten by the nuns at her Catholic school in Auckland. What she was saying was that life was tough so deal with it and don't snivel.

Now, of course, we're getting on with it.

Bravo Donald and the Freemasons Foundation.

Hail fellows very well met.