Bizet’s “Dr Miracle” and Donizetti’s “Rita” comic opera double bill: a gallery

A comic opera double consisting of the Hong Kong premiere of George’s Bizet’s Le docteur Miracle and a new production Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita was presented by Opera Hong Kong in cooperation with HKUST on 15 May 2023 association with the French May Arts Festival.

Dr Miracle was Georges Bizet’s first opera, written for a competition run by Jacques Offenbach in 1856. Bizet was co-winner winner with Charles Lecocq and both operas premiered in 1857. Updated to the present day and reset in contemporary Hong Kong, this production features a new arrangement for chamber ensemble by Marco Iannelli, new dialogue in English and Cantonese, and interpolating a duet from another early Bizet opera, Don Procopio.

Dr Miracle tells the timeless story of a young woman in love with a boy her overbearing father thinks unsuitable—only a doctor or lawyer will do—but, despite the attractions of a vain and flirty stepmother, love finds a way through various disguises, a possibly poisoned omelette, and a fake doctor with a miracle cure.


Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita dates from between 1839 and 1841 at a time when the composer was in Paris. Still unperformed at the time of his death in 1848, Rita finally premiered in May 1860 at the Opéra-Comique. It remained relatively obscure, but has recently been rediscovered and is increasingly performed.

This new production sets the action in a Hong Kong dai pai dong. Rita, who runs the place, happens to have two husbands. She believes the first husband died in an accident, when in reality, he has run away to Canada. During their time together, he hadn’t treated her very well, something which—with her newfound freedom—she now takes out on her timid second husband.

As far as husband #1 knows, Rita is dead, too. He is returning to get a hold of her death certificate and be free to marry again.

Husband #2 witnesses the reappearance of his predecessor, clearly very much alive and married, and sees it as a chance to escape his marriage to the tyrannical Rita. The two men meet and agree to play a special game: the winner will keep Rita as his wife forever. It goes without saying that both will try hard to lose.


The production featured Etta Fung, Chen Yong, Isaac Droscha and in Dr Miracle, Ashley Chiu. Hsu Wen-en was in the pit.