The Shades headlines Opera Under the Stars for Manu Samoa road to the World Cup

The Shades Ipu Lagaia, Manase Latu, Samson Seti and Taka Vuni

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 05 DECEMBER 2018: New Zealand’s newest opera and classically based sensation of Pacific Islanders is the main act of this years’ Opera Under the Stars at the Little Helper Trading Retreat & Resort at St. Therese, Leauva’a this Friday evening.

Coming out of a well acclaimed first concert last month, the group simple called The Shades, comprises Samson Setu and Ipu Laga’aia from Samoa and Taka Vuni and Manase Latu from Tonga.

Fresh from the success of their first concert in Auckland two weeks ago, the group is thrilled to be performing for the first time in Samoa.

VIDEO CLIP: The Shades singing Ave Maria during Midday Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Apia, Samoa.

The Shades bass-baritone, Samson Setu told the media today that they were pleased for the chance to return home and perform on their homeland.

“We are happy to support this event because rugby is a big part in our culture in Samoa and New Zealand,” said the Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist who aims to one day sing on the world’s biggest and most renowned opera stages or to represent Manu Samoa.

He said they are looking forward to Friday as they have heard a lot about the Opera Under The Stars in the past and they hope to make people smile and support rugby.

“We hope to have the same success we had in New Zealand in our first concert two weeks ago which was manly for families and friends,” said Setu.

Come Friday, the group have a few surprises especially with popular Samoan songs they have been working on. The group is interested and encourage Samoan material that they can perform.

The Shades singers with members of the Little Helper Trading Retreat St. Therese – Francine Fruean, Aliimuamua Kereti Ah Liki and Samoa Rugby Union Chief Executive Offer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai.

The group was established 3 years ago when they first met at Auckland University where they studied Classical Performance Voice.

“We were the only Pacific Islands in the class, so we sort of all came together at the back row of the class and we became friends then decided to have a go at singing,” said Latu.

They got their first gig and later requests started coming and leading to bigger performances and they have been growing since.

“It is rare in opera to make your own music, but that is the dream we have in the pipeline,” said Latu.

All singers are involved with New Zealand’s top operatic institutions such the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Program, Dame Malvina Emerging Artists for 2018 under the New Zealand Opera.

Uniting All Samoan Opera Singers in Opera Under The Stars
Coordinating the concert is the Little Helpers Trading Retreat & Resort St. Therese organisation and the Opera Under The Stars Concert is in its fourth year now.

“Our purpose is to fundraise for big events and the Opera Under The Star is our avenue of bringing Pacific and Samoan opera singers who have just completed studies to share talents and expertise, and at the same time use the opportunity to fundraise for events,” said the Chairperson, Aliimuamua Kereti Ah Liki.

Past guests of the Opera Under The Stars included Marlena Devoe and Sole Mio.

One of the organisations dream is to unite all Samoan opera singers to perform in the Opera Under The Stars in the future.

“It is an expensive exercise but anything is possible. We have talked about that, we know some of the singers are beyond our capability to cater financially, and it also depends on the artists’ availability,” said Aliimuamua.

“We hope and dream and it would be wonderful to have all the sons and daughters of Samoa here,” she said.

The organisation is also exploring ways to help promote and boost the potential of young opera enthusiasts in Samoa.

“We have reached out to the Ministry of Education Sports & Culture and also the National University of Samoa, so there is always hope to talk and share our functions in backing and fundraise, but in terms of curriculum, that would be with them,” said Aliimuamua.

The concert is part of the fundraising is to assist the national rugby team Manu Samoa’s campaign for next year’s World Cup in Japan.