Opera in Asia

It’s been a long while since I have posted. Please forgive me! Life and projects have a way of taking over. I’ve been focusing on a new job for the past few years, adjusting to life after divorce and experiencing a whirlwind of activity in Asia. My first forays to this amazing part of the world was as part of a team starting a new opera company in Hong Kong: More Than Musical. Its founder, Rumiko Hasegawa, and I met in New York at a lunch arranged by my friend and colleague Wei-En Hsu. At this meeting Rumiko described how she became involved in opera (she spent her career in the world of finance) and how she felt opera should be produced differently from what she had experienced in Hong Kong. She believes that opera should be performed in very intimate spaces, so that the audience is actually IN the story, as opposed to observing it from a distance. She also feels that the classics should be shortened, that there should be a bar for socializing and that the operas should be viewed through a contemporary lens. The moment I heard her describe her vision, I said “Sign me up!”

So started my adventure. In the past three years we have produced adaptations of La Traviata and Tosca (entitled The Kiss of Tosca).
Both productions were very successful (Traviata was presented twice) and the company is well on its way. Their next project is a contemporary adaptation of Carmen, directed by my colleague and former student, Jennifer Williams.

Since then, I have had the privilege of teaching acting masterclasses in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Wuhan, Seoul and Tokyo. I have been so impressed with the talented singers in Asia, long known for wonderful natural voices. But I have also experienced them as intelligent, hard-working artists very open to improving their acting skills as well. Acting training for opera singers is very limited in Asia. Nonetheless, I found everyone I worked with able to understand the concepts and bring forth excellent work.

I hope to be able to continue my work there as well as visit more countries in the incredibly rich world of Asia. More to come…

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