Gioachino Rossini could hardly have asked for a better commemoration—this year marks the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death—than this celebratory performance of his lesser-known comic one-act opera Il Signor Bruschino brought to the Macao International Music Festival by the Opéra de Chambre de Genève.
Giacomo Puccini’s final opera is the tale of a Chinese ice princess melted by an implacable love. Turandot, channeling the spirit of a violated ancestress, sets suitors three unanswerable riddles to be answered on pain of death.
While hardly a rarity, Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) doesn’t usually rank in popularity with the likes of Aida, La Bohème or Carmen. But after a performance such as that which acted as the curtain-raiser for the Macau International Music Festival, it can be hard to understand why not. Effortlessly enjoyable, the work also contains passages of aching beauty and contains more insights into human nature than its rom-com surface would let on.
That He Hui chose to open her concert, part of a 20th career anniversary tour of China, with Adriana Lecouvreur’s first act aria from Francesco Cilèa’s eponymous opera says everything one needs to know about this Chinese soprano’s attitude towards her art.
Opera Hong Kong’s summer semi-staged performances showcase local singers; this year’s production was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. The fact that this work is more commonly known by its English name, The Magic Flute, is an indication that it is somewhat unusual: it’s known as a “singspiel”, or “sing-play”, which, like a musical, has spoken dialogue between the singing.
Opera travels well. Its stories are the stories of our collective humanity—love, loss, revenge, strife, rebellion, rejuvenation, absurdity, tragedy—and its archetypes not only define cultures but also connect them. In many respects, we can no longer speak in essentializing ways about Western opera or Chinese opera, but rather must address the world of opera and global operatic voices.
In a ceremony today presided over by Antonello de Riu, Consul-General of Italy in Hong Kong and Macau, operatic tenor and Opera Hong Kong’s Artistic Director Warren Mok received the title of “Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy”, conferred by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella.