Neighbour of Julia Child keenly awaits opera

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Neighbourhood connection . . . Dunedin woman Kenzie Sutton (right) and singer Claire Barton look over a copy of Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking ahead of Friday's performance of one-act opera Bon Appetit! PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Dunedin woman Kenzie Sutton once lived in the same street as internationally renowned chef, author and television personality Julia Child.

So, when she heard that Dunedin’s Little Box of Operas was planning to present a return performance of Lee Hoiby’s one-act comic opera Bon Appetit! at its recent AGM, she jumped at the chance to help.

The opera, performed by mezzo-soprano Claire Barton, demonstrates the baking of Child’s superb chocolate gateau cake – complete with ingredients and mess.

Bon Appetit! was premiered in 2017, with Barton in the role of Julia Child, as part of a double bill with Joseph Haydn’s La Canterina

When Mrs Sutton went to last week’s AGM, she took along her copy of Julia Child’s famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which she presented to Barton.

“My late husband, Richard, and I lived in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in the 1960s, not far from Julia Child,” she said.

“We had a black and white television, and would love watching her cooking show – she was so entertaining and dramatic.”

The couple bought the cookbook and enjoyed creating many of the recipes, although it has now been years since Mrs Sutton has made anything from it.

Claire Barton will use the cookbook as inspiration for her return public performance of Bon Appetit!, as part of a programme entitled “Just Desserts” this Friday night, November 22, from 7.30pm, at Knox Church.

Along with the one-act opera, she will perform selected favourite light opera and musical comedy songs during the event, which is a fundraiser for the church.

Bon Appetit! is one of my favourite operas – it is an absolute joy to sing and I get wonderfully messy,” Barton said.

” I am really looking forward to performing it again, and other songs, in support of the church.”

And during the summer holidays, she plans to have a go at some of Child’s recipes at home.