Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Get-well Party at a Mansion

From Wendy

My friend Joy, who goes to Nabalebale village in Vanua Levu every year but lives in Geelong Australia, invited me to a party in a mansion to celebrate her husband's recovery from illness. This was yesterday from 1 pm. until nearly 8. Peceli couldn't go as he was at his Fijian church up in Melbourne.

The double storey Georgian style mansion is a surprise amidst large pines and a curved dirt road in a farming area on the way to Ocean Grove. The land is so dry at present, the grass almost white. Now this house is something to behold - a private house modelled during the 1970s on a French baronial mansion, with a glorious winding staircase, a ceiling cupola, antique furniture, large reception rooms, with gold ceiling to floor curtains and French windows. The children at the party had a great time exploring public and private areas of the house. A little six year old girl was telling me that the particular room we were in looked like it was a film set from a movie and a particular curved settee was where the lady lay down for the artist to draw! A six year old knew about Jane Austin and Matisse!

It was a lovely party though most of the guests were strangers to me except for Joy's family. There was fine food and drinks and a good time getting acquainted. But the great part was the entertainment by two guest singers, Peter and Margaret, who sang operatic arias and had magnificent strong voices - though Peter said he had nodules and should rest for six weeks. I asked Margaret could she stand on the grand staircase and sing 'I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls' and she did. Amazing. Then the two sang a love duet from 'La Boheme' halfway up the staircase and the singers acted and moved up the stairs as they sang. Peter loves to ham it up I suspect. Wonderful!

Peter has written his story in 'Finding my voice' - a narrative of a deprived childhood, a youth who sang Maria Lanza songs alone, while also singing and playing with a rock and roll band. He was discovered, sponsored to study, and has sung internationally, put out CDs of classical and operatic music. He's about 46, acts boyish or flamboyant, talks a lot, but what a voice!

But Peter, oh dear, also sang Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Beejees, Roy Orbison covers for us, mimicking their voices and I thought, oh dear, don't copy, don't mimic, just be yourself!

I walked outside to explore the grounds with some of the little kids, to pat a foal and the mare stamped her foot at us, noticed a rose-garden, but the surrounds were just so dry this summer. The owner of the house is a charming man who lives alone in this house with probably eight bedrooms and enough space for a tribe. Isa lei, that's sad.

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