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.
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), a leading contributor to the bel canto opera style, was one of the first composers who channeled drama and emotion to the stage with music in a time when the singers’ part was considered key to conveying emotions instead. His one-act opera Rita, posthumously premiered 160 years ago, was one such example,and may make the point again when locally-based Italian music director Marco Iannelli revives it in Hong Kong.
Chorus members sported masks, so this Opera Hong Kong production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro wasn’t quite a return to complete normality, but the socially-distanced audience for the first Hong Kong opera performance in almost a year enthusiastically took what they could get.
There is no earthly reason to write about the new off-Broadway musical Romeo & Bernadette except that it’s very clever. Mark Saltzman has repurposed some 300 hundred years of Italian song—Giordani through de Curtis with side trips via Rossini, Bellini, Leoncavallo, Cannio and Falvo—as songs and lyrics of a thoroughly modern (albeit 1960s-retro) musical.
The first few weeks of January, falling as they do between the two New Years’, are culturally relatively quiet. The Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, now the Beare’s Premiere Music Festival, has long been one of the major events brightening this relatively uneventful period.