Live opera heard at Government House
Local Vibes
August 20, 2004
Live opera heard at Government House

An Evening of Classical and Contemporary Music at Government House on Friday, 6 August, presented a unique opportunity to hear live opera, probably the first time in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, according to host the Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne in his welcoming speech.{{more}}
Among the dignitaries who graced the historic building were the Minister of Tourism and Culture Rene Baptiste, and the ambassadors from Venezuela and Japan, Tibisay Urdaneta and Shigenobu Kato, respectively.
The guest performers were Miho Yamada, a brilliant soprano whose clarity, range and facial expressions kept the full house enchanted. Baritone Tomoya Sakaguchi was equally expressive with his rich, powerful voice, which belied his otherwise youthful appearance.
Yamada entered for her first piece in a kimono, the traditional garment of Japan, and an obi sash, with her elaborate coif embellished with a comb. She then appeared in a fiery red dress, her shoulder-length hair loose, and the contrast thrilled the audience. Sakaguchi, likewise, exuded charm and confidence and was quite handsome in his tuxedo and artistically spiked hair.
You needn’t be a lover of opera to appreciate music “that feeds the spirit and the soul”, as Ambassador Kato put it. Nor would you need to be a linguist to understand the pieces selected for the first part of the progamme, most of which were “art” songs – poetry or folk songs set to music. Synopses, or the actual words, of the pieces were printed on the programme, yet the expressions of liveliness or melancholy superseded the limitations of verbal language – you felt what was being sung.
The duets of the second half kept the audience enraptured and the contemporary pieces, such as Bette Midler’s “The Rose” and “Over the Rainbow” from the musical “The Wizard of Oz” had a few listeners humming along. And of course “Dalfus”, a Vincentian folk song, drew wild applause from the crowd.
The pianists also added a special touch: Akifumi Shigemi, a grand performer and teacher at the highly regarded SEIJO private primary school [in Japan ], and Kiyoshi Itaya, who is with the Japan Overseas Cooperative Volunteers (JOCV) here in St. Vincent and teaches music at the Girls’ High School.
This was a rare opportunity to hear outstanding opera singers, who were here to promote friendship and understanding through the power of music.