July 17, 2023

Hawaii Opera Theatre Takeaways

The next stop on my 2022-23 season was performing the reprise of Nolan Gasser's stunning opera, The Secret Garden, with incredible director Karen Tiller at Hawaii Opera Theatre.  Spending 6 weeks making music in Honolulu was rough, but somehow I managed... ;)

Apart from the incredible group of people I had the privilege to meet and create with, these are my top takeaways from my time with HOT:

1. Dare to Care: aka This Board is Everything  

Never have I been so carefully greeted by the board of an opera company as I was with HOT.  The President himself, Mr. @Steve Prieto, was waiting for me at baggage claim, with a magnificent fragrant lei and a warm "aloha!" As we drove into the city center together, Steve regaled me with fun facts about the history and culture of Honolulu, so that by the time we had reached my residence, I had a haiku resumé of my new hometown's essence. The care and personal investment of this initial encounter was so valuable and powerful. It set the tone for our relationship straight away, and left a wonderful souvenir I still am savoring many months later.

2. Repeat visits are awesome

Like revisiting a late Beethoven sonata over several years, revisiting a place can bring new layers of understanding, appreciation, and knowledge. I had been to Honolulu once before, 20 years ago and with a giddy college mindset. I was a young tourist, and my days were filled with beaches, a family dinner or two, roosters at 5am, and road-side plate lunches. This time I came for music, and treated my residence in Honolulu as a home-away-from-home: I walked my neighborhood, found favorite local spots and dishes, and developed a daily rhythm which fit both rehearsal schedules and sunrises alike. I am so grateful for that newest layer of knowing Honolulu, and can't wait for my next encounter this January!

3. Resilience is key

We were T-24 hours from opening night when the Blaisdell's power grid decided to die.  With a 2,000+ seat theatre to light and cool, plus our beautiful show designed by Cirque du Soleil artistic staff to run, now was definitely not the time to have our power fail.  And of course, on top of it all: a crucial projector decided to crash as well.

Undaunted, the HOT and Blaisdell teams worked together to find a backup generator (no mean feat on an island!) and had another projector flown out from California.  The show went on as scheduled, to the delight of our audience.  Bravi tutti!

4. Visit museums - they're cool

On one of our theater dark days, I decided to visit the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA).  I almost didn't go, as watching a movie on the couch was sorely tempting.  But the promise of enjoying some visual art in the coolness of a temperature-controlled building convinced me - and I'm so glad it did.  

This museum was exquisite! Truly a highlight of my time in Honolulu.  It had both classical permanent collections and a stunning contemporary collection, "Awakenings" by Rebecca Louise Law.  I even treated myself to a lunch on their gracious indoor patio, and a treat from their gift store.  Only intending to stay for an hour or so, I spent the majority of my day in the company of such grace and beauty.  And so can you!

I can't wait to come back to Honolulu this winter to perform Leoncavallo's Pagliacci with HOT.  

Stay tuned for more about this incredible city and company!