Scènes de la vie de bohème is an intimate dramatic adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s classic opera. Reduced to the four principal roles in a new musical arrangement by Marco Iannelli, this new version is designed to focus on the emotional ties between the two couples. It debuted in April 2024 in a run of special performances on Hong Kong’s iconic Star Ferry in a new production for Dante Alighieri Society and The Peninsula Hong Kong to commemorate the Puccini centenary.

Anna Bolena (1830) is the first of Gaetano’s Donizetti’s trio of Tudor operas, with Maria Stuarda (produced by Musica Viva in 2022) and Roberto Devereux following later in the decade. Like much of bel canto that went into relative eclipse with the rise of verismo late in the 19th century, Anna Bolena was rarely performed in the first half of the 20th century, and while today it is back in the standard repertoire, it is close enough to the edges to amount to a bold choice for a Hong Kong opera company.

Although originally conceived as an oratorio, Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah (1846) has in recent years been staged, on occasion at any rate, as an opera. Last night’s semi-staged performance by The Bel Canto Singers showed why: whatever the libretto may lack in theatricality is made up for by the drama in the music, sung by operatically-sized cast of a dozen named characters and a large chorus.