Author Archives: Hawaii Opera Theater

Subscribe to the 2017-18 HOT Opera Season

Opera Highlights at the University of Hawaii

Lynne’s opera lectures are a must for my wife, Anny, and me.  Her insights are artistically, technically and historically stimulating . . . her enthusiasm infectious. She delivers her messages with humor, wit and accessibility.  They enrich our enjoyment through understanding.  But beware – they may turn you into an Opera geek!  —Steve Turner

Enrich your opera experience and enjoy the Hawaii Opera Theatre’s 2018 opera season. This course will take a closer look at this season’s presentations. The February 7th class will explore Gaetano Donizetti’s The Daughters of the Regiment. On April 11, come and learn more about Pyotr Ilyich Tschaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Register online for one or both dates!


Dr. Lynne Johnson – Johnson received her MA in musicology in 2001 and her PhD in musicology in 2009 from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She is an avid Francophile and both her master`s thesis and her doctoral dissertation happily required her to do research in Paris. She teaches courses in music history at UH Manoa. As a community volunteer, Lynne sits on the Boards of the Honolulu Museum of Art, Manoa Heritage Center, and Hawaii Opera Theater. 

For tickets and information regarding the performances call 596-7858 or visit HOT`s website at You will find everything about Hawaii Opera Theatre, includingspecial ticket prices for students. (Students with a valid school ID can enjoy HOT Opera at a special student-only ticket price of only $20. No walk-ups, so for the best available student seats, reserve your ticket with the HOT Box Office early!)

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Review – As One

Hawaii Opera Theatre’s “As One” is the story of a young transgender person discovering who s/he is, but like many operas, it connects on a universal level and is relevant to everyone who struggles towards self-acceptance. Thursday’s performance was outstanding, sure to be a highlight of HOT’s year.

Created by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed, “As One” is designed not for grand opera houses of old, but for more intimate contemporary spaces. The libretto is intense, yet compact, covering a broad dramatic arc in only 15 songs, very much like a song cycle.

HOT presented “As One” in an un-airconditioned Aloha Tower warehouse transformed with black-cloth walls and lighting trusses, a simple stage and an auditorium of folding chairs. Dress lightly, bring a fan, and accept that glass of water on your way in, but leave your opera glasses at home, because you will be sitting close enough to be enveloped in sound and to see performers’ nuanced expressions.

Sharing the sole main role of Hannah, baritone Kelly Markgraf (Before) and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (After) were riveting, their staging a delicate dance about their relationship: facing or backing off, echoing movements, turning away or embracing.

Markgraf’s and Cooke’s voices, large, warm and expressive, matched well, their overlapping ranges merging in moments of intimacy. At times, one joined into the other’s phrases, the timbre of one gender emerging through the other’s voice, producing a stunning impression of neither-one-nor-the-other-but-both.

Cooke and Markgraf sang the role for the world premiere in 2014, and their comfortable familiarity made it easy to believe they were two sides of the same person.

Apropos a chamber opera, the orchestra was an on-stage string quartet, the excellent Fry Street Quartet led by conductor Robert Wood. (The quartet performs Haydn, Britten and Smetana in a solo concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Aloha Tower Pier 10 Cruise Ship Terminal.)

Hannah’s emotional journey is told through Kaminsky’s music, using operatic techniques now familiar to movie-goers to meld words, action, and music into a multi-layered drama. Moods shift quickly, youthful exuberance turning introspective as Hannah approaches adolescence, heart-pounding dissonance conveying assault, and soaring vocalizations painting words (“free,” loneliness”). Kaminsky commands a varied palette, and her portrayals – of loneliness, queasiness, doubt – were masterful, painting Hannah’s rich emotional world with sensitivity and leaving indelible memories.

Settings were via video projections on backdrop screens and added their own levels of meaning, both literal (Norwegian fjords) and symbolic (a long tunnel emerging into a new phase of life). The screens provided supertitles that ensured everyone caught every delightful phrase (“emotional vertigo,” “a shack with cabin aspirations”).

Hannah’s story, although a struggle, is also uplifting (finally – an opera with a happy ending!) and invites people to look into their own mirrors: using perfection as a disguise, facing loneliness, accepting who we are, and in the end choosing to be happy.

It is easy to see why “As One” is one of the most frequently performed contemporary chamber operas in America.

“As One”: Laura Kaminsky, composer; Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell, libretto. Starring Kelly Markgraf (Hannah before), Sasha Cooke (Hannah after); directed by Jeffrey Buchman, with music conducted by Robert Wood and performed by Fry Street Quartet – Robert Waters and Rebecca McFaul (Violin), Bradley Ottesen (Viola), and Anne Francis Bayless (‘Cello). Lighting Designer Peter Dean Beck; costuming by Helen E. Rodgers; repetiteur Maika’I Nash; stage manager Madeline Levy. Running time 1:25 (no intermission).

Ruth O. Bingham received her doctorate in musicology from Cornell University and has been reviewing the musical arts for more than 30 years.

Aloha Tower, Pier 10

As One – Venue Information and Parking

HOT continues the tradition of staging chamber opera in the Islands with the Hawaii Premiere of Laura Kaminksy, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed’s acclaimed As One

Since 2013, HOT has sought some of the most popular and moving modern chamber operas, producing these works in venues outside of the traditional Concert Hall.  As One will be staged at the historic Aloha Tower Marketplace in the Terminal at Pier 10

Aloha Tower Marketplace is located at 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Honolulu, HI, 96813. Please refer to the  map below for venue location with parking info and different rates available in the area.

Thank you for your continued support of HOT and we’ll see you at the opera!

Marketplace Parking Piers 5 & 6

Metered parking Diamond Head of Falls of Clyde and Hawaii Maritime Center


TOPA Center – 700 Bishop Street

$5.00 flat rate after 5:00 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday, Sunday


Pacific Guardian Center – 733-737 Bishop Street

$4.00 flat rate after 4 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday, (Closed on Sunday)


Harbor Court Parking – 847 Bethel Street

 $3.00 flat rate after 5:00 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday, Cash Only


Harbor Square – 700 Richards Street

$5.00 flat rate after 4 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday, Sunday

HOT Holiday Special

The Holiday Season Meets Opera Season – $99 Special

The Holiday Season meets Opera Season with this perfect stocking stuffer!

This perfect stocking stuffer includes:

  • 2 HOT Opera Tickets – Section B ($180 value for two tickets) seats to Daughter of the Regiment or Eugene Onegin. Get one ticket to each opera, or two to one!
  • Buy One Coffee, Get One Free – A special from Brue Bar, which feature specialty coffee!
  • A Free Drink – On your next night out at Blue Note: get a free drink when you purchase a ticket to a show!
  • 15% Off a Haute Dog – Discount on a gourmet hot dog or sausage from hank’s haute dogs, featured on Food Network, Hawaii Five-O, and more!


Special Thanks to:


10/20 – Hear Excerpts from As One at Arts in Conversation: LGBTQ+

Artists for Social Justice Hawaii are back with another free event on October 20, 2017, at 7:30pm, in the Orvis Auditorium.  Don’t miss it and get the chance to hear As One, which HOT stages this coming January!



Arts in Conversation: LGBTQ+

October 20th, 2017 7:30 PM, Orvis Auditorium

In a Heartbeat                                                                                            Esteban Bravo & Beth David

                                                                                                             Ringling College of Art & Design

Suite for Violincello and Harp                                                                                             Lou Harrison

  1. Chorale
  2. Interlude

Anna Callner, cello & Megan Bledsoe-Ward, harp

Native Hawaiian Leadership in the LGBTQ+ community

Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, Speaker

Same Love                                                                                                        Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Sam Hargrove, Helena Bohannan, Rosemary Kulhavy-Sutherland

I Dream A World                                                                               André J. Thomas & Langston Hughes

In This Moment                                                                                                                      Gary Simmons

Seasons of Love (Rent)                                                                                                        Jonathan Larson

Gay Men’s Chorus of Honolulu

Phil Hidalgo, Artistic Director

Steven Strugnell, Piano



Milo Robinson, poetry, video, editing & Katie Patrick, dance

An die Musik                                                                                                              Franz Schubert

  1. (Deux Poème de Louis Arragon) Francis Poulenc

Sonetto LV: Tu sai, ch’io so (Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo)                                   Benjamin Britten

Early in the morning                                                                                                   Ned Rorem

I never knew (AIDS Quilt Songbook)                                                             Ricky Ian Gordon

Rachel Schutz & Chorelle Ramirez, soprano; Kyle McKinney, tenor

Thomas Yee & Noe Baladad, piano

Farrington HS Slam Poetry Club

Excerpts from As One                                                                                                 Laura Kaminsky

            Perfect Boy

            Two Cities

            Three Words

Jeremy M. Wong: Hannah, before

Maya Hoover: Hannah, after

Maika’i Nash, Piano; Barett Hoover, director

HOT Orvis Opera Studio Live in Concert with Maestro Tim Shaindlin

HOT presents the Orvis Opera Studio: Live in Concert with Maestro Timothy Shaindlin, on Saturday, August 12, at the Mae Z. Orvis Auditorium at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa. This free event is offered by HOT’s Education Department.

Doors to the public will open at 7:00pm; performance at 7:30pm. Both on street and limited parking are available at Mae Z. Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawaii at Manoa Music Department. Please call 808-596-7372 to RSVP.

Singers from the Mae Z. Orvis Opera Studio will perform in this free concert featuring opera arias and other classical music favorites led by Maestro Timothy Shaindlin. The event is the culmination of two weeks spent with Maestro Shaindlin.

Maestro Timothy Shaindlin has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Music since 2008. He has also served on the music staffs of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, San Diego Opera, and multiple world-renowned companies. Additionally, Mr. Shaindlin has played in classes and coachings for some of world’s most beloved voices, including such artists as Carlo Bergonzi, Sherrill Milnes, Joan Sutherland, Regine Crespin,Beverly Sills, Birgit Nilsson, Luciano Pavarotti, and Frederica von Stade.

Along with his work as a Coach and Teacher, Mr. Shaindlin has had engagements on the podium with the Wolf Trap Opera Festival and Chicago Opera Theatre. He most recently conducted HOT’s production of The Mikado (2014).

Jake and Jill Gardner return to Hawaii for A Grand Night for Singing


A Grand Night For Singing will take place at 7:30 pm on Saturday, June 17 in the Sacred Hearts Academy Second Floor Auditorium, located at 3253 Waialae Avenue Honolulu, Hawaii, 96816.

To RSVP, contact Hawaii Opera Theatre at (808)596-7372.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser Opera Review

Star-Advertiser Review: ‘Hoffmann’ closes out opera season with bittersweet story of love wasted and lost

A bittersweet story of love wasted and lost, the Jacques Offenbach opera “The Tales of Hoffmann” has many a party scene, from its carousing opening scene in a tavern, to an elegant ball to a raucous gambling den.

So it only seems fitting that “Hoffmann” closes this year’s Hawaii Opera Theatre season. The opera, which premiered Friday, is longtime HOT artistic director Henry Akina’s final production, as illness is forcing him into retirement. And with a beautiful production that featured fine performances all around and one particularly stupendous one, he gave himself and his audience a spectacular aloha.

Offenbach described his 1881 masterpiece as an “opera fantastique,” and it is a bit crazy and hard to follow, with a huge cast and lots of interchangeable parts. The story has writer, composer and jurist E.T.A. Hoffman reliving the three main romances of his life: his superficial attraction to the doll Olympia; an honest but ultimately tragic love for the mysteriously ill Antonia; and a lust-driven downfall to the courtesan Giuletta. It’s a wide-ranging role requiring everything from bravado to vulnerability, and tenor Eric Fennell delivers nicely on those counts. His main aria “The Legend of Kleinzach,” a knee-slapping tale about a dwarf, was comical, fun and somewhat cruel, in the way that alcohol-driven banter can be.


Unfortunately, Fennell’s voice, while smooth and pleasant on the ear, was overmatched by his powerful co-stars. Olivia Vote, in the “pants role” (a woman playing a young man) of Nicklausse, filled Blaisdell Concert Hall with her silvery soprano, particularly in the second-act “Violin” aria, in which Nicklausse, who is actually the alter ego of the female Muse, tries to turn Hoffmann’s attentions towards her.

Wayne Tigges, who during the course of the opera foils Hoffmann as four different villains, brought a multifaceted menace to the roles and a baritone that was Darth-Vader-like in depth and power. Out loud, he had only one evil laugh, but you felt it throughout the evening. Also excellent in a multi-character performance was Joseph Gaines, who plays four servants, some bumbling and incompetent, others wickedly sycophantic. His clear tenor cut through the orchestra life a hot knife through butter.

The stupendous performance of the evening – one that provoked gasps from the audience and a 40-second-long ovation – was delivered by coloratura soprano Rachele Gilmore. Olympia’s aria “Les oiseaux dans la charmille” (“The birds in the arbor”) has become her signature, and Friday’s performance showed why. In a voice pure and penetrating, Gilmore soared above the traditional soprano scale, tossing off runs, trills and swells with impunity. Her acting also was also a tour-de-force, as she batted her eyes in sync with her trills and batted Hoffmann around with her shepherdess’ cane, all the while moving around the stage like a robot.

Anybody who admires performance singing of any kind should experience this performance – alone, it’s worth the price of admission.

Olympia’s aria comes in the first act of “Hoffmann,” and afterwards, one was left wondering what was left. There was plenty, particularly with Christine Arand in a lovely portrayal of Antonia. She’s weak in body but strong in love for Hoffmann and for music, and Arand’s warm, sweet soprano left one the feeling that she’s “the one who got away.” Eve Gigliotti is also excellent as the manipulative courtesan Giullietta in the final act.

The production itself is beautiful to behold. Projected scenery has become a mainstay in theater production and Peter Dean Beck and Adam Larsen’s designs made for a visual treat. They had some fun with it as well – when Hoffmann dons rose-colored glasses, hiding the doll Olympia’s flaws from him, the lighting took on a pinkish hue, letting the audience see through Hoffmann’s eyes.

As for the costuming, costume designer Helen Rodgers brought a wonderful authenticity to the period production. And who knew there were so many powder puff wigs in Hawaii?

Praise also must be given to the chorus, under Nola Nahulu. Visiting singers and conductors uniformly praise HOT’s chorus as singers and actors. In “Hoffmann,” five chorus members almost steal the show as the villain’s minions, scurrying about in the best tradition of criminal gangs. The men of the chorus also added a lot with their opening act appearance in a tavern, banging their beer mugs in rhythm to the music. With the opening lines “We are beer! We are wine!”, they put the audience in the mood for the party that “The Tales of Hoffmann” became.