Musica Viva’s new production of Norma—Vincenzo Bellini at his bel canto best—is perhaps an omen: it is just one letter shy of “normal”.
Hong Kong soprano Louise Kwong sang selections from Puccini, Cilèa and Verdi in a special concert in a special “Concerto Italiano”, presented by the Italian Consulate-General in Hong Kong at the City Hall and streamed online on the occasion of the Italian National Day.
When Micaëla comes on Act III, looking for the estranged Don José at the smugglers’ camp, she sings that Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante—“I tell myself that nothing will frighten me”. One could sense, in this, its first full-staged production in eighteen months, Opera Hong Kong telling itself much the same thing.
The Italian Cultural Institute’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita was reprised on 27 April at HKUST’s 2021 Cosmopolis Festival.
In a series of matinees ending today, Hong Kong’s Musica Viva presented George Bizet’s Carmen to audiences of secondary school students for whom this was the likely the first (Western) opera performance most had ever attended.
The most notable thing about the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts’s current run of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Idomeneo is that it is happening at all, a socially-distanced audience and performers all in masks (the medical rather than commedia dell’arte kind) being concessions to the situation.
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.