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.

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.