By Wal Reid
Artist: Sol3 Mio
Date / Venue: Sunday December 21st, Villa Maria Winery, Auckland
So this is Christmas, well actually ‘Christmas in the Vines with Sol3 Mio'. Villa Maria Winery Estate was the location and the 7100 strong crowd were here to revel in the seasonal festivities with glow-sticks, Santa hats and picnic hampers under an unusually clear Auckland sky, a fitting end to the trio's long but successful year touring theatres and arenas both here and overseas.
Make no mistake, the crowd were here for one thing, to hear this phenomenal Samoan trio made up of tenor brothers Pene and Amitai Pati and baritone cousin Moses Mackay. Their growing popularity is hardly surprising, given the burley Polynesian threesome who look like they would be just at home on a league field as they would touring operas' world stage, have impressed audiences near and far with their stirring vocals and trademark humour.
Showtime, the boys clad in their characteristic suit jackets proceeded with a hospitable "Welcome to Mangere" and the Polynesian hit song machine was off. The well-loved Neapolitan songs ‘O Sole Mio' &‘Marechiare' started the night's proceedings, almost a saunter for the trio as they dedicated ‘Mamma' to all the mums in the audience before Amitai was left to his own devices, lunging into the Spanish love song ‘No Pue'.
Sol3 Mio's album was the highest selling Kiwi album of 2014 nudging out our Lorde's Pure Heroine for top spot, it went platinum seven times and was only second overall to Ed Sheeran's X. Not a bad feat for the boys from Mangere and Auckland's North Shore. Sol3mio have done for Opera what 80s Electronica German bands have done for Industrial music, exposing Opera to the masses on a mainstream level, and done it well they have indeed.
The first of the nights special guests, Lexus Song Quest winner Isabella Moore literally blew the roof off with her aria ‘O Mio Babbino' a great new singing talent who will be one to keep an eye out for. Pene returned onstage with Christchurch soprano singer (also girlfriend) Amina Edris for ‘Tornami' before she introduced her next aria, "enjoy every moment of your life sing and dance, because you won't be 20 years old forever". As she scaled the heights of the aria she stopped as the audience clapped musing "I'm not finished yet" smiling to the audience before being joined on stage by Isabella for a rousing rendition of the classic flower duet ‘Lakme' or as Amina nicely put it "the British airways ad" .
The boys returned after a quick hiatus, ‘Amazing Grace' ‘You'll Never Walk Alone' and ‘That's Amore' (that's Amore not a Maori) with the boys on double bass, ukulele and guitar showcasing their musical skills got the crowd in sing-a-long mode, by now dusk had descended upon the winery resembling a glow-worm grotto as glow sticks lit up the cool night sky.
However nothing could compare to the scene that unfolded as Pene Pati proposed to his girlfriend Amina Edris on stage, not only in front of thousands but also with his and her whanau on stage. After serenading her with ‘Dein ist Mein Ganzes Herz' he got down on knee to make his proposal public before Amitai & Moses sung them off with the ironic touch of ‘Beauty & the Beast' musing " We didn't put a mic on her just in case she said no". The night ended in the spirit of Christmas with the boys obliging the crowd with a selection of choice carols, a wonderful end to 2014 and also an exciting night for one special couple.
It's easy to see why Sol3 Mio are one of this country's most popular artists, their warm rapport, spirited songs and natural humour bring a modern touch to Opera, exposing mainstream audiences to a traditional art form they probably wouldn't otherwise listen to.
Sol3 Mio strike a perfect balance of song and humour that transcends all ages and cultures. The best thing was even the weather seemed to enjoy the show.