Written when the composer was just 12, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “La Finta Semplice” qualifies as a real rarity. After a performance the year following its composition, it dropped from the repertoire and was not staged again until modern times. That Musica Viva’s recent production at Hong Kong’s City Hall was a premiere seems beyond doubt, the only question being over how large a geographical area.
Luisa Miller at Glyndebourne delivers everything a summer music festival can offer: a perfectly rehearsed ensemble, a purpose-built theatre, young but top-of-form artists, a great orchestra, and a willingness to experiment with less-well-known works. This season is being celebrated as a triumph over Covid, after two years of empty seats.
Perhaps it was being forced to skip a year that prompted Opera Hong Kong to step outside the normal commercial comfort zone and program Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi for this year’s summer semi-staged production at City Hall. Whatever the genesis of the decision, it was a fortuitous choice.
Musica Viva’s new production of Norma—Vincenzo Bellini at his bel canto best—is perhaps an omen: it is just one letter shy of “normal”.
Hong Kong soprano Louise Kwong sang selections from Puccini, Cilèa and Verdi in a special concert in a special “Concerto Italiano”, presented by the Italian Consulate-General in Hong Kong at the City Hall and streamed online on the occasion of the Italian National Day.
When Micaëla comes on Act III, looking for the estranged Don José at the smugglers’ camp, she sings that Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante—“I tell myself that nothing will frighten me”. One could sense, in this, its first full-staged production in eighteen months, Opera Hong Kong telling itself much the same thing.
The Italian Cultural Institute’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita was reprised on 27 April at HKUST’s 2021 Cosmopolis Festival.