Honolulu witnessed a Mikado performance as early as 1890.
Actually, Hawai‘i’s first theatre opened its doors
in 1847, at the corner of King and Maunakea streets. It was
called The Thespian and hosted productions such as Donizetti’s
The Daughter of the Regiment. With the opening of the Royal
Hawaiian Theatre at the corner of Alakea and Hotel streets
150 years ago, major mainland theatre companies could perform
in Honolulu. However, only a few people in Hawai‘i, and
those mostly of European decent, supported the opera, which
was performed with little regularity before the 1870s, when
the Hawaiian Royal Family became interested. Royal support
reached its peak with King Kalakaua’s sponsorship, and
while it declined somewhat after his death, its popularity
has grown slowly but steadily among Honolulu residents ever
Hawai‘i Opera Theatre was created in the 1960s. Along
with more reliability, Hawai‘i Opera Theatre, also known
as HOT, brought educational programs, and it continues to sponsor
five general programs each year.
First, the Opera Highlights is a class offered in partnership
with the University of Hawai‘i. This class focuses on
the roots of the operas currently being performed by the theatre.
This gives students deep insight in the world of opera and
a different understanding and experiencing of the plots.
Opera previews are held at the Academy Theatre at the Honolulu
Academy of Arts. This program features three of the grand operas
played by the HOT and gives a general impression of each opera.
This up-coming season’s grand operas include the Flying
Dutchman (Jan. 28, 30; Feb. 1), Susannah (Feb. 11, 13, 15),
and Turandot (Feb. 25, 27; March 1, 3).
Lanai lectures are free and are held in the Neal Blaisdell
Concert Hall lanai. The lectures welcome everyone and cover
the background of operas in less than an hour. Presentations
are held an hour before each performance.
Lastly, HOT offers private lectures to small groups, by arrangement,
about the background of operas and a variety of programs designed
for schools. For instance, the HOT can perform for more intimate
audiences. The Opera Express tours under request in elementary
schools for audiences as small as 200.
Makeup and costumes are an important part of theater, the HOT
plans tours of the theater make-up department so that the school’s
students get closer to the backstage experience.
Opera for Everyone makes opera performances more financially
available for college as well as elementary school students.
For information about any of these programs, call HOT at
596-7858 or e-mail hawaiiopera.org.