Jonathan Lemalu relaxes in the Octagon yesterday. Photo by
The Otago rugby team nearly ruined
internationally-acclaimed opera singer Jonathan Lemalu's
homecoming concert in Dunedin tonight.
''I got so excited watching the Ranfurly Shield game that I
just about lost my voice. It was just fantastic. I couldn't
believe it,'' the bass-baritone and Otago rugby fan said
''There are Dunedin people all over the globe and the moment
that whistle blew there were people around the world yelling
Lemalu will make a rare appearance in Dunedin tonight,
performing with the RSA Choir in the Dunedin Town Hall.
His parents, Foalima and Tasi, still live in Dunedin and the
concert will include a duet featuring the bass-baritone and
his father, Foalima, who is a long-standing member of the
''It's really nice to be able to give something back,
especially to the RSA Choir, which has a long history of
helping young singers. So many people in Dunedin helped me
get started and it feels good to be able to do something in
return,'' Lemalu said.
''Some of the RSA Choir members have been there so long that
they remember when Otago last held the Ranfurly Shield,'' he
added, with a trademark chuckle.
Lemalu (37) has lived in London for the past 10 years, with
his wife, Croatian mezzo-soprano Sandra Martinovic, and their
5-year-old son, Josh.
He returned to New Zealand last week to perform in the New
Zealand Opera production of Don Giovanni in Christchurch.
''I always love coming home to Dunedin and seeing family and
friends and it was too good an opportunity to miss, as it's
just down the road from Christchurch.''
He returns to London later this week, for upcoming concert
and recording engagements in London and New York.
RSA Choir chairman David More yesterday said: ''We're
thrilled and honoured that Jonathan wanted to sing with us
''I think we gave him his first professional engagement, for
about $20. We're very proud of that. It was Jonathan's idea
to perform with us again and we're all very excited about
The 7.30pm concert will also feature the combined Otago Boys'
and Girls' High Schools' choir, Barock, and the University of
Otago ukelele group, Uni Ukes.