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Mikado showcases HOT summer season

by Patricia Synephrias, staff writer

   

The Hawai‘i Opera Theatre has had an exciting season this summer, notably with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, which concluded its Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall run as this edition of Kalamalama was being printed.

One of the most famous operas of all times. The Mikado, written in the late-19th century, relates the story of a tailor, Ko-Ko, who was appointed lord high executioner. The emperor of Japan, the Mikado, threatened Ko-Ko’s own head if he failed to complete a certain execution. When Ko-Ko stated that he had executed the emperor’s son, his life and the lives of his friends was endangered. Ko-Ko’s humorous struggle to survive includes seducing the mean and ugly Katisha, among other fantastic episodes.

Click on image for larger view
 

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 since.

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.

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
 
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