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War Hero


Sat 22 Jul 2017, 7:00pm
Tue 25 Jul 2017, 7:00pm
Thu 27 Jul 2017, 7:00pm
Sat 29 Jul 2017, 7:00pm

Where: Mayfair Theatre , 100 King Edward St, Kensington, Dunedin, Otago

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Adult: $45.00
  • Child: $15.00
  • Additional fees may apply


Listed by: operaotago

A century ago, in 1917, Otago farmer Archibald Baxter was arrested for refusing to serve in the NZ military forces.

Over the ensuing eighteen months he and thirteen other New Zealand conscientious objectors were subjected to various kinds of punishment, humiliation and torture at the hands of the military authorities, in New Zealand, in England, and on the battlefield of Ypres in Belgium. War Hero tells Baxter’s extraordinary story.

The opera is based on Michael Galvin’s play of the same name. Many who fought in World War 1 were heroes, facing terrible circumstances on the battlefield, displaying extraordinary courage in appalling conditions as they defended the things they believed in.

Baxter may be considered to be a hero too since he faced enormous physical and psychological challenges in defending his beliefs. It takes courage to say no when all around you are saying yes. In World War 1 there was no place for those who refused, in all conscience, to participate in the organised violence of war. They suffered.

The opera has an all-male cast. 28 different roles are sung by 11 different singers, with an accompaniment from four versatile electronic keyboards and two percussion players. Most of those involved are opera performers building their careers - Opera Otago’s policy is to give young performers an opportunity to develop and showcase their talents.

Leading the cast as Archie Baxter is Andrew Glover (tenor), a professional opera singer born and trained in New Zealand and currently based in Brussels. Supporting him are Matt Landreth (baritone) and Alex Lee (baritone) as Baxter’s fellow conscientious objectors Kirwin and Briggs, and six talented young singers, some graduates of the University of Otago Department of Music and others still training there with Judy Bellingham or Judith Henley, together with a couple of older, more experienced singers.

The opera is conducted by Vincent Hardaker, a recent graduate of the NZ School of Music in Wellington. The stage direction is by John Drummond.

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