Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter, she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain.
Opera Hong Kong’s La bohème was originally scheduled for last May, but was bumped off the schedule by the tail-end of a Covid surge. The delayed production was well worth waiting for.
On 6 July 6 1998, the last flight took off from Kai Tak International Airport, marking the end of an era for Hong Kong aviation. For decades, international flights flew over the roofs of Kowloon apartments, before landing on Kai Tak’s runway, extending out into the harbor. Kai Tak—frankly, a terrible place for one of the world’s busiest international airports—is a good symbol of the story of Hong Kong’s aviation, as told in Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s–1998 by John D Wong.
Cold and rainy England and Scotland exerted what now seems a surprisingly strong pull on Italian opera composers of the first part of the 19th century. Gaetano Donizetti alone had a string of four operas about the Tudors, starting with Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth and quickly followed by Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and finally Roberto Devereux.
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is one of those composers who, like Leoncavallo and Mascagni, are pretty much mostly known for a single one-act opera. Wolf-Ferrari’s operas were phenomenally popular at the time, in the decade or so before WW1, but Il segreto di Susanna, which debuted in Munich in 1909, is the only one that still has regular outings and it seems to have been rediscovered in the past few years. The overture can appear as a stand-alone piece, and the aria “O gioia la nube leggera” is, or at least was, a not uncommon recital piece.
At first glance, Lawrence Osborne’s latest novel, On Java Road, seems to focus on the 2019 political climate in Hong Kong, but it soon becomes apparent that this serves more as a setting for what is a story of friendship, betrayal and, perhaps, redemption. The book, indeed, could possibly have been set at any time in Hong Kong’s modern history. The city has had its share of upheaval over the decades; Osborne’s story isn’t dependent on his choice of the most recent. He is a master of noir and it’s the atmosphere and place that are at the heart of this book.
In his heyday in the years after World War Two, Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti was arguably one of the most successful and popular opera composers of the time. He took advantage of the circumstances, writing works that could be performed both on the opera stage and Broadway. His “Christmas opera”, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first opera specifically composed for television, at least in United States, and was a staple of pre-Christmas television for many years.