Art Preview: Gala Concert, by Opera Hong Kong
10th Anniversary Gala Concert
Opera Hong Kong
A lot can happen in 10 years. Just ask tenor Warren Mok Wah-lun about the local opera scene before he co-founded Opera Hong Kong a decade ago.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department would put on perhaps one opera a year, Mok recalls, and another one was presented by the Hong Kong Arts Festival - and that was it. "Now, over the past 10 years, we've done 16 major productions plus numerous concerts and school tours," says the artistic director of the city's first professional opera company.
Tonight, Mok joins 22 local and international singers - including bass baritone Shenyang and soprano Jennifer Rowley - for Opera Hong Kong's 10th anniversary Gala Concert. They will be accompanied by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Hong Kong Chorus and Opera Hong Kong Children Chorus, with Perry So on the conductor's podium.
The programme contains excerpts from well-known operas such as Carmen, Don Giovanni, La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and Rigoletto. It also includes tunes and performances by what Mok calls "opera lovers", or non-professional singers, who serve on the company's board.
"I'm going to sing ensembles, duets with the opera lovers and a trio," says Mok. "On stage we'll have close to 250 people performing, from choral singing to duets to trios. And it's going to be a very vast repertoire."
Mok has long wished to make opera accessible to the masses; he believes in democratisation of the arts. That thinking led him to nurture local talent by hiring graduates from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and to promote the art form among youth with its outreach programmes.
Over the years, Opera Hong Kong has organised summer camps, open dress rehearsals and so-called mini operas (30-minute abridged versions) to introduce the art to students in the city.
It established its children chorus in 2008 to provide a platform for young performers.
"The government always says Hong Kong is Asia's world city," says Mok, who has his sights set on elevating the company to one of the major government-supported arts organisations.
"Without a proper opera company, without great opera productions, we cannot make this claim."
Barry C. Chung
Today, 7.30pm, HK Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd, TST, HK$150-HK$10,000 Urbtix. Tel: 2234 0303 or operahongkong.org