Hawaii Opera Theatre

Der fliegende Holländer at Hawai'i Opera Theatre

Hot-dutchman-2015 * Notes *
Der fliegende Holländer opened at Hawai'i Opera Theatre last night. Francesca Zambello's production, directed here by Sara Widzer, involves a lot of ropes. The set is simple and remains essentially the same the entire time, despite the intermission placed in the middle of Act II. Scenes are changed using light and a few props, including the aforementioned ropes and some furniture. The choreography is elaborate, singers dance and climb up metal scaffolding or rope netting. Though the stage direction seems somewhat fussy, the main plot points are well-motivated and the end is definitely effective.

The youthful cast is strong. Melody Moore is radiant as Senta, and has a lovely vulnerability. Ryan McKinny is powerful in the title role, and conveys a certain dangerousness in his growling, bold voice. Jay Hunter Morris sounds bright and plaintive as Erik. Paul Whelan (Daland) is cheerful and Nathan Munson (Steuermann) sweet. It was difficult, at least at yesterday's performance, to hear Maya Hoover as Mary, but her physicality is spot on for the role.

The orchestra, conducted by John Keenan, played the overture with spirit. There were times when the musicians could have sounded more cohesive, and this was also the case with the chorus. However, this does not detract much from the sturdiness of the piece itself or the fine soloists.

* Tattling *
It was helpful to sit in the first row for this performance, as it made it easy to ignore the scattered talking from my neighbors (Row A Seats 25 and 27) on the left. They were engaged by the experience but perhaps a bit noisy in their enthusiasm. The couple on my right (Seats 21 and 19) was completely rapt and silent.

Faust at Hawai'i Opera Theatre

HOT Faust Ticket * Notes *
Hawai'i Opera Theatre just finished a 3 performance run of Gounod's Faust on Tuesday. The set was typical of what is seen regional opera houses, simple and employing multiple platforms. The use of projection was restrained, mostly in the background or on the lowered scrim before each act. General and Artistic Director Henry G. Akina's stage direction was straightforward, and the handling of the chorus was particularly deft.

The orchestra sounded a bit mushy at first in the overture under Maestro Mark Flint, the tempi somewhat slow and grave. The strings were nice, the first violin sounded great during his soli. The brass was slightly harsh at times, but there were only few intonation errors.

The chorus had some problems staying exactly together, but the sound was full. "Gloire immortelle de nos aïeux" and "Sauvée! Christ est ressucité!" were both strong. Leon Williams stood out from the chorus nicely as Wagner, and Dorothy Byrne was amusing as Marthe. Buffy Baggott made for an endearing Siébel, her voice is pleasant, without too much vibrato. Luis Ledesma (Valentin) sounded reedy and light.

The audience adored local singing Méphistophélès, Jamie Offenbach. Vocally he was warm, and perhaps slightly gravelly, but his embodiment of the character seemed complete. In the title role, John Bellemer was slightly stiff but acquitted himself well as far as singing. Melody Moore sounded sweet, warm, and clear as Marguerite. She looked demure in the first half of the opera, and appropriately unraveled by the end until her salvation.

* Tattling *
One could not help being delighted by the long white gowns worn by the female ushers. The audience was enthusiastic, but had a hard time remaining silent. A small elderly woman behind me in B 53 of the balcony had a cough, and spent much of her time unwrapping drops or loudly consuming them. She had difficultly staying still and bounced vigorously in her seat. She did leave at the second intermission. The performance received a standing ovation.