Opera in the Arboretum was the dream of Rotarian John Greenway and under his leadership the event has run successfully since 2005.

The inspiration to hold an Opera event on the Central Coast came about in 2003 when John, who was the club's Project Director at the time, and his wife Marijke travelled to the Rotary International Convention being held in Brisbane.
John Greenway recalls...
“On the way to Brisbane, we stopped at Stanthorpe in the Granite Belt of South East Queensland and stayed with a former club member Trevor and his wife Carol at their B&B. Trevor was a member of the Rotary Club of Stanthorpe that held a successful fundraiser, Opera in the Vineyards. After a chat with him, I thought it would be an idea to stage an Opera in the Arboretum.
I had this in the back of my mind when a local came into my wife's art gallery and said he was sponsoring a Puccini Festival in Melbourne. With his contacts, the first Opera in the Arboretum was planned. Not being very knowledgeable about Opera, I was lucky to meet Michaele Archer, a Pearl Beach resident and a wonderful Soprano along with Michaele's husband, Justin, a graphic designer, who volunteered to do the posters for Rotary Club of Woy Woy's first venture into the world of Opera. 
Each year the event has grown bigger and bigger, while featuring Opera's most celebrated stars, much to the delight of attendees. There is no similar event held on the Central Coast and the people love to sit amongst the gum trees and hear the kookaburras accompany the opera singers... 
I sometimes wonder how we can improve from one event to the next, yet each year I hear that it was the ‘best Opera ever’!”
Over the years, thanks to a successful collaboration between John and OITA Artistic Director Michaele Archer, the event has featured Australia's most celebrated opera singers including Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Cheryl Barker, David Hobson, Sally-Anne Russell, Rosario la Spina, Milijana Nikolic, Jose Carbo and many others. 


Sadly, while enjoying a Sunday bicycle ride with his mates, an accident took John's life. 
Opera in the Arboretum will continue to be a lasting tribute to John Greenway, Past President and Paul Harris Fellow and a committed humanitarian who gave so much of his life to helping others.


Opera in the Arboretum was due to celebrate its 15th year in 2020 when COVID-19 struck and restrictions on mass gatherings meant the event had to be cancelled. Although we intended running the event in 2021, restrictions on public events were still in place in March, and a decision was made to delay holding our 15th event until Saturday 12th March 2022. 
Since the event's inception hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for deserving causes, charitable organisations and for Rotary humanitarian projects across Australia and around the globe.