COOBER PEDY News & Events


The Desert Cave Hotel and Umoona Opal Mine and Museum bring Opera to the Outback 

Kate Lara and Antonio Villano sing a duet at the Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy

Kate Lara and Antonio Villano sing a duet at the Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy

The outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy enjoyed a show case night at the Opera, on Saturday evening 29th November.  Popular Italian Tenor Antonio  Villano, opened the show with Phantom of the Opera showstopper “Music of the Night”. 

Guests enjoyed a wonderful three course meal and soft music as they waited for the stars Antonio Villano and Kate Lara to arrive.

The evening was sponsored by Robert Coro of the Desert Cave Hotel and Yanni Athanasiadis of Umoona Opal Mine and Museum and coordinated by Managers Elmar and Maria Brdoch and the Desert Cave staff. 

Everyone who enjoyed culture attended a transformed Desert Cave Hotel Function Room where Antonio Villano and his partner and promoter Kate Lara transported the audiences on a musical journey to Italy and beyond, beginning with Antonio’s stunning renditions of great arias such as Nessun Dorma, Con Te’ Partiro, Caruso, O Sole Mio and I’ll Walk with God.

Antonio Villano move amongst the crowd at the Desert Cave venue

Antonio Villano move amongst the crowd at the Desert Cave venue

Italian born Antonio Villano migrated to Australia with his family at 9 years of age. His upbringing was not without struggle.  Antonio’s love for music was always apparent, constantly listening to the old traditional songs his parents played, along with the music of the idols he looked up to.

Antonio entertained his Coober Pedy audience in a 90 minute stage and floor show with a magnificant “Tribute to the Tenors” along with other tributes to singing stars including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Mario Lanza and many others who have stood the test of time and live in the archives of our memories.  Antonio brought it all back.


Deirdre Greengrove enjoying her birthday serenade

Deirdre Greengrove enjoying her birthday serenade

Local resident Deirdre Greengrove who celebrated her birthday on the 18th November was treated to a surprise serenade of “Happy Birthday” by Antonio. 

The night at the Opera was husband Eddie’s birthday present to Deirdre.  Eddie said he was hoping for a return visit by the singing stars.

After performing tributes to the opera stars Antonio Villano and Kate Lara coupled beautifully as a duo, singing harmonies for each other as they moved through popular and memorable song segments. They kept the audience on the dance floor for a great night to remember. 


Prudy and Damien Clark swinging to "Sweet Caroline"

Prudy and Damien Clark swinging to a Neil Diamond favourite, "Sweet Caroline

Both Antonio and Kate displayed a rare talent for complimenting artists who had created memorable music for the world to continue enjoying

District Council of Coober Pedy’s Damien Clark was the sound technician and director for the evening, but didn’t miss an opportunity to kick up his heels with wife Prudy when Antonio launched into “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.

Maria Crisa is treated to a special song from Italy from Antonio

Antonio treats Maria Crisa to a special song from Italy

Antonio moved amongst the guests and dedicated songs to many of the ladies. Local resident Maria Crisa and her husband Vince’s eyes sparkled, listening to the beautiful Italian classics from the masters of their homeland presented by Antonio.


Kate sings "The First Time"....for Maria and Elmar

Maria and Elmar dance while Kate sings a Roberta Flack number as a thank you

Kate sang a special Roberta Flack song, “The first time ever I saw your face” and invited Elmar to dance with his wife Maria as a thank you for the wonderful hospitality that they experienced as guests at the Desert Cave and in Coober Pedy. 

Kate said they were both overwhelmed by how friendly and welcoming everyone was and that they had been made feel very special.  Kate particularly complimented the venue which was indeed spectacular and a credit to the Desert Cave staff.

Joe Carboni and his wife Elsie had a front row table in order to catch every moment of Joe’s classical Italian favourites. 

Another special treat was when Antonio and Kate sang “Unchained Melody” in Italian.

Joe and Elsie Cabonara with Kate and Antonio (centre)

Joe and Elsie Caboni with Kate and Antonio (centre)

Unchained Melody was  made famous by the Righteous Brothers in the 1965 then went on to become one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century and made immortal in 1990 when featured as the sound track for the movie “Ghost” starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

A further treat was Anthony’s presentation of The Prayer made famous by Celine Dion and more recently by Anthony Callea.

During the show, local photographer Peter Rowe of Desert Diversity Tours was kept busy photographing the event along with dining and dancing with his wife Konnie.  Peter Rowe said,  “it was the most enjoyable evening of entertainment both myself and Konnie had experienced in Coober Pedy.  We were overwhelmed with the professional presentation of such a large scale production. It all went so smoothly”.  Peter added that he hoped there would be a return of the show next year.

Coober Pedy's Crisa family with Antonio and Kate

Coober Pedy's Crisa family with Antonio and Kate

Coober Pedy boasts an historic Italian community dating back to early opal mining days when multiculture became a dominant feature of the opal fields. 

Many generations of Italy’s finest opal mining pioneers along with their children and grandchildren maintain stong and hard earned ‘territorial rights’ and residency in the town.

The night was a magnicent tribute to the Italian culture in Coober Pedy and a night we hope to enjoy again. 

 Special thanks to Robert Coro and Yanni Athanasiadis for making the night possible.

Photography: Peter Rowe

Coober Pedy Regional Times