Putting a song in Kiwi kids' hearts

Felipe Manu and the cast of The Elixir of Love
Felipe Manu and the cast of The Elixir of Love

Opera is typically enjoyed in some of the world's most renowned theatres, but now it's making an appearance in some New Zealand primary schools as part of a tour being run by New Zealand Opera.

It was less an assembly and more an ensemble being held in the Howick Primary School hall this week, a performance of The Elixir of Love not just a thrill for the kids but one of the cast members too.

Felipe Manu learned to sing in this very hall when he was a student here just over a decade ago.

"My niece goes here now, and to be able to see her watch her uncle up on stage is pretty special, and being back here where I got my first solo, in this hall, so it's pretty special," he says.

Manu is currently performing as part of an opera in schools programme. They often perform three times a day, and the whole show fits in the back of a van.

"I think something like opera is very important to keep alive, and in touring around New Zealand we're just hoping to remind them that opera is still there," says Manu.

"For the children to see that somebody from amongst them could become famous and could do something really amazing, I think it sort of inspires the young ones to think about what their futures could be," says Leyette Callister, Howick Primary School principal.

This Elixir of Love is the story of a Kiwi fish-and-chip shop owner trying to steal the heart of the woman he wants by taking a magic potion.

But does it live up to critics' expectations?

"It was really exciting and it had lots of detail and information," says one student.

"[I learned] true love can happen in any place at any time," says another.

Not the usual answer kids give when asked what they learned at school today.