The first half of May was been a busy fortnight for opera in the Greater Bay Area. The renowned Chinese soprano He Hui sang her first Wagner role, Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, at the Guangzhou Opera House on 5 and 7 May, a dramatic move (literally and figuratively) away from the Verdi and Puccini heroines for which she is best known.
Category Archive: Opera
Il trovatore, Opera Hong Kong’s second production of the year so far, opened with a star-studded cast featuring soprano Martina Serafin as Leonora, tenor Marco Berti as the troubadour Manrico, baritone Simone Piazzola as the villainous Conte di Luna and mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti as Azucena, all performing in a simple yet elegant revolving set.
While perhaps not immediately obvious, the appeal of George Frideric Handel’s Giulio Cesare as an Academy production becomes clear once the production is underway.
Opera Hong Kong’s La bohème was originally scheduled for last May, but was bumped off the schedule by the tail-end of a Covid surge. The delayed production was well worth waiting for.
Cold and rainy England and Scotland exerted what now seems a surprisingly strong pull on Italian opera composers of the first part of the 19th century. Gaetano Donizetti alone had a string of four operas about the Tudors, starting with Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth and quickly followed by Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and finally Roberto Devereux.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is one of those composers who, like Leoncavallo and Mascagni, are pretty much mostly known for a single one-act opera. Wolf-Ferrari’s operas were phenomenally popular at the time, in the decade or so before WW1, but Il segreto di Susanna, which debuted in Munich in 1909, is the only one that still has regular outings and it seems to have been rediscovered in the past few years. The overture can appear as a stand-alone piece, and the aria “O gioia la nube leggera” is, or at least was, a not uncommon recital piece.
In his heyday in the years after World War Two, Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti was arguably one of the most successful and popular opera composers of the time. He took advantage of the circumstances, writing works that could be performed both on the opera stage and Broadway. His “Christmas opera”, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first opera specifically composed for television, at least in United States, and was a staple of pre-Christmas television for many years.