Opera in the Park at Saxton Oval on Saturday night. Photo: Tim Cuff.

Sparkling symphony under the stars


The scene was set at Saxton Oval on Saturday as more than 7000 people flocked to hear some of the world’s most captivating voices light up Nelson.

Eager punters were queuing at the gates well before they opened, making sure they secured their preferred positions on the oval.

The voices of Simon O’Neill, Anna Leese and Bic Runga were accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra well into the evening.

“It was so fantastic to see all those people in such a beautiful setting, listening to the most glorious music – it really is one of the best nights out in Nelson,” says councillor Gaile Noonan, chair of the community services committee.

Conductor Hamish McKeich said it was a “magical evening”.

“We could all feel the energy coming from the audience, which always helps performers to give it everything.”

Attendee Bernard Downey said the event showcased everything that was great about New Zealand, and was impressed with the fireworks display at the end too.

“It was probably one of the best I have seen. It was really something.”

The audience included a huge cross-section of the community, across all ages, and with some large groups with very well-organised picnics. Special guests included those from Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Blind Foundation, who were there courtesy of donated tickets from the Pay It Forward project.

Nelson City Council’s festivals team leader. Axel de Maupeou, said Saxton Cricket Oval proved to be an excellent venue.

“It has enormous potential for all kinds of events in the future.”

Opera in the Park is part of Nelson City Council’s Summer Events, featured in the Summer Events Guide, which is full of community, cultural, sports and recreation events.