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Multi-media opera to be launched on Anzac Day at Waikato University

13 April 2012

Juniper Passion

The Juniper Passion: University of Waikato composer Mike Williams will launch his latest opera, in remembrance of New Zealand's armed forces, with a free public session on Anzac Day.

University of Waikato composer Mike Williams launches his latest opera, The Juniper Passion, on Anzac Day at the university’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.

Williams is a senior lecturer in the university’s Music department. John Davies, a former Waikato staff member who is now a senior lecturer in performing arts at Unitec, is the librettist on the opera.

In remembrance of NZ armed forces

Almost four years in the making, the World War II opera has been produced in remembrance of New Zealand’s armed forces. The Juniper Passion is set in the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944; the libretto is dedicated to Richard Ferguson Davies – John Davies’ father who fought in the 1944 battles.

Opera informed by historical fact

University of Waikato Distinguished Alumnus Dr Chris Pugsley provided valuable historical insights about the battle, the bombing of the abbey and its aftermath which were later translated into the musical retelling of the story, including electronic sound effects, chamber orchestra and even the new Auckland Town Hall organ. The overarching story is based on fact, but the characters are fictional – a Benedictine monk, a German officer and New Zealand soldier.

Opera to feature former Waikato student

The Juniper Passion features former University of Waikato student Julia Booth, university staff member David Griffiths, and the orchestra was conducted by Dr Rachael Griffiths-Hughes. It was produced by Wayne Laird from Atoll Records and is the 100th CD to be presented under the Atoll Label since 1997.  The opera was supported by the University of Waikato, Creative New Zealand and the Lilburn Trust.

Free public session on Anzac Day

The multi-media opera will be performed at a free public session at 6pm on Anzac Day in the Academy’s Dr John Gallagher Concert Chamber. It features choreography by Atamira Dance’s Artistic Director Moss Paterson and 3D graphic visual sets by animation designer Sean Castle.


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