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Our music

Duke live at Whare Flat 

Intermezzo/Mio Babbino Caro live at Whare Flat

What people are saying about Café Operana...

“These three top-flight artists are clearly serious about their music but combined at Whare Flat Festival to present a light-hearted and delightfully quirky show that skipped from heart-stopping Puccini arias to bravura Eastern European dances to tangos and treats of all descriptions. The audience absolutely loved it! And the dresses were great too...”

Máire Ní Chathasaigh


"I was held on the edge of my seat while arias, airs and driving tunes alternated with an ease and humour that belied the serious musicality and skill of each of these musicians"

Anna Bowen, Festival Director Whare Flat 2016/17 (read full review below)


Review of Cafe Operana 31st Dec, Dunedin:

Cafe Operana made their first foray into the Dunedin music scene in
the grand marquee at the Whare Flat Folk Festival, watched by an
audience of about two hundred who of us had no idea what was coming to them and bookended, imposingly, by the Karin Reid jazz trio and the
well known bluegrass duo Kim&Dusty.

We were well and truly awed and delighted.

Through a genius combination of instruments and repertoire Café
Operana beguile the audience with an exciting and new sound while
maintaining tremendous sophistication and grace.

Why was the sultry accordion ever shunned from orchestra pits, and was the harp not made solely for the accompaniment of French chansons and swinging East European dances?

I was held on the edge of my seat while arias, airs and driving tunes
alternated with an ease and humour that belied the serious musicality
and skill of each of these musicians. Lois Johnston's voice swoops,
dives, sighs and beckons, it shines as lustrous and warm as the gold
of Helen Webby's orchestral harp, played with edginess, swing and
breathtaking finesse; while Sophia Bidwell, with subtlety, gives us
all the accordion is capable of throughout the show from playful
rippling melody lines and rhythmic bass to the broad enveloping chords
that make us weak in the knees.
And to top it all off their sparkling and colourful arrangements
completely match their outfits.

Café Operana would not be out of place in an orchestral hall, a piano
bar or a folk festival and will take you on a journey to faraway
lands, via unexpected byways and unusual transport.


Anna Bowen, Festival Co-ordinator 2016/17

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