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Gala glitterati dazzle at Ballandean Estate’s Opera in the Vineyard 2019

Opera in the Vineyard 2019 dazzled at Ballandean Estate on Sunday 5 May. Over 550 people attended the charity gala, co-hosted by Rotary Stanthorpe, with all funds raised going to charity.

Sunday was our first frost of the season, and from a chilly start of 1 degrees in the morning, the day blossomed into a crisp, cool day, bathed in sunshine and cerulean skies.

2019 is our 27th Opera event, and we are thrilled to work in partnership with Rotary Stanthorpe. Over $1 million for charity has been raised since the event’s inception. This year’s fundraising will be distributed by Rotary to charities End Trachoma 2020, Hummingbird House and several more.

This year’s theme was Diamonds Are Forever. Guests bedazzled in black tie, kilts, we even had a Lady Penelope! A huge thanks to our major sponsor Stanthorpe Jewellers, who donated a spectacular champagne diamond ring worth over $2500.


Leeanne-Puglisi-Gangemi’ daughter of Ballandean Estate owner and event founder Angelo Puglisi

Opera attendees were delighted by husband and wife operatic stars Rosario La Spina and Milijana Nikolic, who lit up the stage with a passionate performance. It was a rare opportunity for Serbian-born mezzo-soprano Milijana Nikolic to perform with her real-life husband, powerful international tenor Rosario La Spina, as tenor and mezzo is an uncommon pairing. The sizzling duo fell in love at the Academy for Soloists at Teatro alla Scala in Milan.  

Glenda Riley took some glorious photos on the day, see our gallery below.

Don José’s Flower Song  was an audience favourite, an aria sung as Don Jose’s relationship with Carmen reaches its first crisis, high drama indeed!

Rosario’s tenor brought goose bumps to the skin as it reverberated through the valley, Nessun Dorma—the thrill! He soars with breathtaking clarity.  Incredible acoustics!

To witness Milijana bring Carmen to life onstage was extraordinary, her voice just oozes elegance and passion. Brazenly seductive, unrepentantly exotic, recklessly strong-willed: the character of Carmen has enthralled the world’s imagination for more than a century and a half.

Our stage certainly got heated when Carmen (performed by Nikolic) discovers Jose (La Spina) Is heading straight back to the barracks instead of frolicking in the boudoir at the tavern to celebrate his release from prison. Carmen throws an almighty tantrum, to which José responds with the most heart-rending aria about how a withered flower she flung at him helped him through his miserable month of incarceration.

Carmen was mollified, then used her femme fatale powers to persuade him to run away completely and become a smuggler!


Musical director Mark Taylor, Opera Queensland’s Head of Learning, Regional and Community and compere on the day.

The program of songs ranged from iconic tenor arias  to sparkling melodies from the world of operetta—complemented by musical insights, personal stories, and a few surprises.

Opera in the Vineyard was born of a friendship between Angelo and his neighbour, the late David Pugh. Listening to opera and watching the sun set over the vineyards with a glass of Angelo’s shiraz was a cherished tradition, From humble beginnings, this event is now the jewel of the Granite Belt’s social calendar and one of South East Queensland’s premier cultural experiences.  The 2019 performance was created and directed by Opera Queensland.

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Become a Friend of Ballandean

Sign up for discounts, vintage pre-releases, great deals & special events

Thanks for joining us! We can't wait to take you on a wine adventure! ** Start NOW by using the discount code BallandeanVIP to immediately receive 10% discount on our great range of wines ** We will also add in a BONUS bottle for every dozen purchase with free freight to SEQ. $10 all other places.

Something went wrong. Just call us on (07) 4684 1226 or email info@ballandeanestate.com so we can sign you up to be a Friend of Ballandean :)