IT IS with great sadness that I write to lament the cancellation of Opera in the Paddock this year.
Let me declare firstly that I have sung in most of the performances over the past decade.
Secondly that I grew up in Inverell and return there often to visit family but also because I love the town. To sing there as well has always been a great privilege.
My sadness is not so much for me as for Peta and Bill Blyth, who have created this event at great personal cost (not only financial) for the benefit of Inverell.
My sadness is also for the whole district, which is not renowned for its cultural endeavours.
What the Blyths have done is to put Inverell, the district and the whole New England region on the cultural and tourist map; it is debatable which is more important.
The latter cannot be emphasised enough, as people – and their tourist dollars – have come to Inverell from intra- and, more importantly, interstate.
They all eat, drink, shop and spend in the district.
Many visit more than once and tell their friends who join them next time.
Now, because of reduced support funding (those who are guilty know who they are), Inverell will be off the tourist track once more.
Opera in the Paddock was not exclusively for those who love “opera” or “classical music” (whatever those terms may mean: ask an Italian who grew up humming opera arias, or listen to the classical music behind many TV ads).
It was a night of relaxation under the stars and the gum trees, listening to first-class music (my judgement here is not biased) in a beautiful setting.
Even the kookaburras concurred, as all those who attended will attest!
As all types of good music can do, it created a magic time to pause and reflect on ones’s own life and bigger issues; on love and hate and creating a balance in life; on forgiveness and compassion; world calamities and the good times and the bad; on the civilising nature of friendships and joining together in a community spirit for a night that enriches the soul, as good live music can do so directly.
All of this was made possible by two impassioned and hardworking people who have perhaps been taken for granted.
The selfless work they have done has elevated the profile not only of Inverell but of the whole region.
Sadness and regret are not strong enough terms to emphasise what Inverell has lost, perhaps permanently.
MT BARKER SA