The Press
November 18, 2001

Soprano's 12 Lines of Fame
Staff Reporter

She hasn't read the books, but she has sung in the movie. When the long-awaited Lord of the Rings hits movie screens next month, the voice of a New Zealand singer will feature in the soundtrack.

But filmgoers will have to pay attention – the star turn by Christchurch-trained soprano Aivale Faletolu lasts for only 12 bars.

Faletolu is unfazed by the prospect of her voice being heard all over the world in one of the biggest films of the decade.

"All this kerfuffle over just 12 bars seems a bit funny," she said.

But she admits feeling "quite excited" when one of the producers called from Los Angeles to say her recording had made it to the final cut of the soundtrack, and her name would appear in the film's opening credits.

Faletolu is unfamiliar with the Lord of the Rings story, saying "the books look far too thick to me", but from what she has heard the soundtrack is fantastic.

The 25-year-old National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) opera graduate fell into the unusual singing role almost by chance.

After several sopranos auditioned and did not fit the bill, conductor Igelese Epe, who had worked with Faletolu before, called her in March this year.

"He remembered there was a soprano in Christchurch who could probably do the job," she said.

Days later she was standing in front of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in the Wellington Town Hall singing with a male choir, and director Peter Jackson listening nearby.

The experience was made even more nerve-racking by problems with her voice, which she had lost during a show the year before.

"I thought, 'I won't let them know about what is happening with my voice, I'll just do it, because it's Lord of the Rings'. But when I got there, I freaked out."

Jackson explained that he wanted her voice to sound "like a spirit mourning what was happening on screen", at a sad moment in the film.

Faletolu will find out exactly what is happening on screen when she sees the movie.

She plans to move to London next year to pursue her singing career.