AN opera singer who works at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital will perform in front of thousands of rugby fans at Twickenham this afternoon – and in front of millions more on TV.
Rejieli Paulo is to sing the Fijian national anthem, Meda Dau Doka, at the home of rugby in England for the friendly between Fiji and the Barbarians.
It will be close to the heart of the 37-year-old from Ambrosden, near Bicester, whose father was from Rotuma, Fiji.
Rejieli Paulo sings Io Son L’Umile Ancella
But it will be an emotional moment as her father, who died in 1994, will not be there.
Miss Paulo, originally from Australia, said: “I am excited but a bit emotional. It is an honour and a privilege.
“It makes me think of my dad who I am sure would have flown over here to see me perform.
“I have such great support from my family and many of my friends in Australia will tune in to see me perform at 1.30am their time.”
Miss Paulo has lived in Ambrosden for five years with her partner Lee Webber and their four-year-son, Eli.
She said: “I am part of the Fijian community in the UK and a friend, Bruce Tizard-Varcoe, who has always been very supportive of me as a singer and as a person, is connected with the Fiji team.
“He put my name forward to the Fiji Rugby Union and the Fiji High Commissioner approved me to sing. I am a big rugby fan myself so it will be so great to be there on that level. People keep saying to me that not only will I be performing to Twickenham but people from across the world will also be watching, which is a little scary.”
Miss Paulo moved to the UK in 2004 with a scholarship to National Opera Studio.
Rejieli Shepherd-Paulo, soprano and finalist in the 2001 ASC Finals Concert, held in the Opera Theatre, at the Sydney Opera House, Australia.
She has performed across the world from the Royal Opera House, London, to the Sydney Opera House.
She now works as a PA to Dr Peter McCulloch in the Nuffield Department for Surgical Sciences and is based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.
She said: “My boss has been so good about it as I have had to have sound checks in the run-up to it. He used to play rugby so he is excited too.”
The match will be broadcast on Sky Sports 2 from 2.25pm today.
THE FIJIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM
Blessing grant oh God of nations on the isles of Fiji
As we stand united under noble banner blue
And we honour and defend the cause of freedom ever
Onward march together God bless Fiji
CHORUS: For Fiji, ever Fiji, let our voices ring with pride
For Fiji, ever Fiji, her name hail far and wide,
A land of freedom, hope and glory, to endure what ever befall
May God bless Fiji Forever more!
Blessing grant, oh God of nations, on the isles of Fiji
Shores of golden sand and sunshine, happiness and song
Stand united, we of Fiji, fame and glory ever
Onward march together God bless Fiji.