The Italian Cultural Institute Hong Kong’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita, originally performed at the 2020 Italia Mia Festival, has been adapted and reprised at the Guangzhou Opera House. Performed “in the round” and reset to emulate the Theatre’s own bar, the performance featured soprano Xing Xingyuan as Rita, tenor Lin Junliang as Beppe and baritone Zhong Haodong as Gasparo. Zheng Honghao conducted a chamber ensemble in Italian composer Marco Iannelli’s new arrangement.
Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) is primarily represented in opera’s “standard repertory” by Les contes d’Hoffmann, but he made his name in operetta (opérette), a form which came into its own in mid-19th century Paris in large part due to Offenbach’s own contributions. Dating from 1873, Pomme d’Api is a one-act comic operetta from the latter part of his career, an intimate domestic rom-com for soprano, baritone and tenor.
In a pair of school-day matinees on 25 and 27 May, Hong Kong’s Musica Viva—back in the operatic saddle as local Covid restrictions ease—presented an abridged version George Frideric Handel’s baroque masterpiece Giulio Cesare.
The brilliant set of the Opera Hong Kong’s new production of Madama Butterfly, which opened on 6 October, is a panel set a few meters back from the front of the stage that emulates the front of a Japanese house. The room itself is set into this panel almost 2 meters above the stage floor. The ingenuity of the design however is that it also serves as a screen onto which full stage-wide and stage-high projections are cast: designs from Japanese prints, seascapes, crashing waves, gardens, calligraphy. The effects range from artistic to evocative or illusory.
Hong Kong’s Louise Kwong excelled in a selection of well-known Italian verismo arias by Puccini and Catalani to open the 2021 Italia Mia Festival.
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.