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Become an opera enthusiast

by Victoria M. Fonseca, staff writer


The masks of Peking tradition display wildly colorful and vibrant facial features making the wearer boldly dramatized and passionately ugly. One such masked swordsmen poses readily on the ad for the upcoming new Hawai‘i Opera Theatre (HOT) show Turandot, by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924). Below this picture the caption begins, “Princess Turandot and her cruel cold beauty rule the ancient city of Peking. Death meets every suitor who fails to solve the three riddles to win her hand.”

If that isn’t enough to lure the cramming, budgeting HPU student to become an opera enthusiast, then in support of our very own Kate Sarff, third-year HPU marine biology major, we should show up for this season’s shows. Sarff has been singing with the with the HPU Chorale and with HOT for three years since she’s been in Hawai‘i. Sarff will be singing in the chorus of Turandot scheduled to run Feb. 25, 27, Mar. 1, and 3 at varying times, with tickets ranging from a reasonable $29 to $100. She has also sung in the chorus of the two most recent HOT productions Susannah and The Flying Dutchman.

Feb. 23 is Turandot Opera for Everyone Night, where a full-scale dress rehearsal will take place that is open to children through high school ages. HOT is putting forth a great effort to make the shows more appealing to a wider audience, reaching out to the schools and finding ways to incorporate opera as a highly educational experience. Karen Tiller, HOT executive director is quoted in an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser sympathizing, “those who haven’t been, don’t know opera. They think of excruciating high-pitched voices, but opera’s a lot more these days. We have great ensemble casts, and supertitles, offering translations above the stage. And great sets and costumes.”

Henry G. Akina, veteran director of both Turandot and Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman is a Hawai‘i local. Other locals include cast members Quinn Kelsey, who plays Ping, Lea Woods Friedman, playing Liu, a frequently featured HOT singer since her debut in the 2001 show Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and Warren Mok playing Calaf.

Director Akina, also interviewed by the Honolulu Advertiser, offered much insight into the play itself, describing the “metaphysical issues, but the central issue is what happens when your dreams come true? Indeed, all operas this season look at the idea of dreams, visions, and passions not understood by individuals.” The theme, indeed, of this season of HOT shows is “Passion, Purity, Power!” Don’t miss out!

For reservations call 596-7858 or visit the HOT Web site at



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