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Natasha Underwood plays the lead role during the Domo ni Karmen Opera show,the first Pacific Opera, at the Civic Centre in Suva.

After pleasing Fiji and New Caledonia with brilliant performances, the Domo Ni Karmen opera group is hopeful of performing at the Melanesian Festival next year.

Executive producer Isabelle Meslet Dina says New Caledonian officials invited the group to perform at the festival after seeing their display of art at the France Oceania Forum.

These officials were so enthusiastic that they expressed their wish for us to come and play the whole production, come next year in September, Dina said.

Because of time limitations, the two-hour show had to be performed in the shortest recital version in New Caledonia.

This was a totally different crowd to play for, which had heads of States and government officials but we are very glad they responded with so much heart and enthusiasm, Dina said.

Apart from displaying their artistic skills, the opera group also had the opportunity to stand up at the Forum for Fiji, who had not been invited.

The only presence of Fiji was on stage and we were proud to represent our country through this cultural opportunity, Dina said.

The specialty of this version of Domo Ni Karmen was not only the fact that it was a short recital version, but also the that it was acoustical in the sense that there were only three microphones from the ceiling and the voices of cast members could be heard clearly.

Beyond the actual performance, the cast was exposed to the personal cultural experience of Noumea as well the kind of food they got to taste and language.

Dina said she experienced the challenges that come with any production but with her creative freedom, was able to overcome these and enjoyed every moment of the preparations within the two day time-line.

Dina is not without ideas for more plays but the common set back she faces in Fiji is related to funding.

In times of recession, it is hard to say how I can persuade others about the importance of arts as a medium to express our identity and talk about social issues.

Which is why Dina is grateful to the French Embassy for their sponsorship, without which Domo ni Karmen would not have happened.

The 19th century French classic played in a Fijianised version to packed and highly appreciative audiences in Suva in July.




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