The star of Opera Hong Kong’s recent Carmen might just be the set.
The 2018 “Le French May” opened in Hong Kong with The Painting on the Wall from the Ballet Preljocaj. The inspiration for this new work is a Chinese fairy tale from the Qinq Dynasty-era Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, collected (not unlike the Brothers Grimm, except more than a century earlier) by Pu Songling and published posthumously in 1740.
Based on her performance at the 29 April Grand Finals Concert, Wu Hongni was declared one of the five winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Baroque vocal recitals are not that rare, even in Kong Kong, but to have two almost back-to-back—Magdalena Kožená followed by the perhaps not-as-widely-known but nevertheless entirely enthralling “La Galanía” ensemble only 48-hours later—is a one-in-a-blue-moon set of events. The latter played a (will wonders never cease?) free concert of 17th-century Spanish and Italian love songs at the University of Hong Kong’s Grand Hall.
The Teatro Dom Pedro V is a gem. Built in 1860, it both looks like and is a traditional theatre, with gold-fluted columns, plaster molding and orchestra pit. It is, for better or worse (and in many ways better), small with fewer than 300 seats. One can hardly think of a more idyllic place in which to perform opera, yet Solomusica’s production of an opera buffa double bill over Easter weekend was the first there in several years.
Not all operas or performances are about the singers. The star of the Welsh National Opera’s performance of Pelléas et Mélisande at the Hong Kong Arts Festival was its orchestra and conductor Lothar Koenigs who did Claude Debussy’s seamless score proud.
Ballet, which communicates visually and eschews words, is perhaps the antithesis of literature which does entirely the opposite. So how does one transform an eight-hundred page novel with a dozen important characters and several major plot lines into a two-hour staging using only movement and music? You might well ask.