New Zealand Opera School acting director and choreographer Jon Hunter was thrilled to be at Collegiate and the 24th opera school.

The Opera School finished at the weekend.

Classical singing, acting and dance were at the core of his being, he said.

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Jon is senior acting tutor at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School in Wellington.

He grew up in South Auckland and fell in love with classical music at Aorere College in Manukau after joining the choir directed by acclaimed music director Terence Maskell.

"Terence loved the Polynesian and Maori voices and he encouraged all of us to join the choir. I don't think there would be too many schools where most of the 1st XV rugby team were in the choir and they were all exceptional singers."

He said the powerful support the people of Whanganui lavished on their opera school was astounding.

"It is wonderful to see. I certainly haven't seen better in Wellington or Auckland.''

Jon said to be an actor, classical singer or dancer means you must essentially be an athlete.

"You need body strength, you need to care for your body, you must be fit, eat well. Performing is holistic in every sense of the word."

Even though he had less than two weeks to stage the final-night concert, it was a challenge met by everyone involved, he said.

"That is the beauty of the school. Everyone is completely involved and everyone is wholehearted.''

Standing outside the Wanganui Opera House last Saturday night he had watched in amazement as hundreds of people lined up eager to see the final-night concert.

"It's just wonderful,'' he said.