Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita dates from between 1839 and 1841 at a time when the composer was in Paris. Still unperformed at the time of his death in 1848, Rita finally premiered in May 1860 at the Opéra-Comique.It remained relatively obscure, but has been rediscovered and is increasingly performed, with several new productions in 2020 alone, including this one in a new arrangement for chamber ensemble by music director Marco Iannelli.
Rita consists of eight musical numbers with interconnecting dialogue. Unusually for Donizetti and, indeed, most Italian opera of the period, the opera
includes only three singers and no chorus, making it ideal for an intimate chamber production. The story of a woman who accidentally has two husbands—the first one she mistakenly thinks had died on the way to Canada and both of whom try to gamble her away—is easily transportable to other times and settings.
This performance on 14 November 2020 starred soprano Etta Fung as Rita, tenor Chen Yong as second husband Beppe and baritone Isaac Droscha as the returning first husband Gasparo. Hsu Wei-En was piano and concertmaster with Marco Iannelli as music director. The production was directed by Peter Gordon and produced by Lorna Chan.
Rita was presented by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General
of Italy in Hong Kong. A special opera-film production filmed at the iconic Haw Par Mansion will be broadcast on 30 January 2021 over RTHK.