REVIEW: Westenra the 'complete' popular singer

Hayley Westenra
Regent Theatre
Thursday, November 24

One of this country's best-known voices, Hayley Westenra is midway through a home tour, promoting her new CD Paradiso and celebrating 10 years of performing.

Dunedin's Regent Theatre was well-filled on Thursday evening for Westenra and her supporting artist Chase Douglas.

Hayley Westenra is the "complete package" when it comes to achieving star status on the popular singer circuit. Beautiful figure, charming, serene countenance with engaging smile, and a genuine interest in giving of her time and talents to help the world's under-privileged.

There is no doubt she is also blessed with a reasonably appealing light soprano voice, which has been meticulously managed and marketed through her teens to fit the stardom mould.

A relaxed Westenra compered her show, with simple chat, including plenty of "ums" and girlie giggles, and the excellent eight musician ensemble, including The Diamond String Quartet (much better than a synth) was well-balanced and never over-amplified.

The programme included songs from the new CD. One for which Westenra wrote the lyrics is Whispers in a Dream - thought-provoking text and a lingering melody. Some of her earlier favourites were Amazing Grace, Scarborough Fair, My Heart Belongs to You and Pokarekare, which I felt was the best performed.

Joni Mitchell covers and Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush) were well received, and were accorded more buoyancy and dynamic contrast than some numbers which tended to be rather pallid in their delivery.

It was disappointing to find the glossy eight-page programme ($15) did not list song titles. Chase Douglas (third-year voice student from Waikato) was a very popular supporting artist. Maria from West Side Story and You Raise Me Up revealed a strong tenor voice, with excellent diction and emotive interpretation. He also duoed with Westenra in an Andrea Bocelli number.


- Elizabeth Bouman



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