Sunday, October 28, 2012

REVIEW: Nunsense! by The Hong Kong Singers

Hong Kong Arts Centre McAulay Studio, Wednesday October 24

The last time I saw Nunsense! must have been more than twenty years ago. I remember enjoying it and am kind of surprised that it is not performed in Hong Kong more often (though there was a Cantonese version of it in 2010 and 2011 by Theatrespace). Given that it requires token staging, almost zero costume change and a tiny cast of five, it is ideal for an amateur theatre group like The Hong Kong Singers.

To see my review for HKELD, click here :-)

A Musical Comedy
Book, Music and Lyrics by Dan Goggin
October 24-28 2012
McAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre

Production Team:
Allan Nazareno, Director
Scott Gibson, Musical Director
Mandy Petty, Choreography
Andy Burt, Lighting Designer
Benjie Diola, Costume Designer

Mother Superior Mary Regina : Lyn Sigson
Sister Mary Hubert:  Samantha Kriegel
Sister Robert Anne: Janice Jensen
Sister Mary Leo: Fiona Gourlay Grant
Sister Mary Amnesia: Ginny Moore

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Friday, October 19, 2012

REVIEW: La Traviata of Opera Hong Kong

Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Saturday October 13

How many La Traviata's can one take in a lifetime? I can't remember how many La Traviata's I have seen, though a few did stand out... there was the 1990 Filipino production with American soprano Donna-Zapola Connolly as Violetta (Alfredo was sang by Filipino tenor Nolyn Cabahug) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. What made this version memorable was the fact that aside from the role of Violetta, the rest of the cast sang the opera in Filipino! Italian or Filipino, during that time, really doesn't made much of a difference to me actually :-) This production is also of significance because it was translated and directed by the Philippine National Artist for Theatre and Literature Rolando Tinio and the set was designed by Philippine National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin.

Twelve years and many La Traviata's later, another production that stood out for me was in La Fenice (Venice). During that time, La Fenice was being restored thus the production was shown in Teatro Malibran. While the orchestra led by Marcello Viotti and stage direction by Giancarlo Sepe was fine, the highlight were the performers. Elena Mosuc was Violetta, Marcelo Alvarez was Alfredo and Leo Nucci was Giorgio... they were absolutely fabulous!

In a matter of six months, October 2012 to March 2013, I will in fact see three La Traviata's! This Opera Hong Kong will be the first, the second will be in La Monnaie (Brussels) and the third one will be by the Teatro di San Carlo (Naples) for Hong Kong Arts Festival.

To see my review of Opera Hong Kong's La Traviata for Time-Out Hong Kong, please click here.

Do watch out for my reviews of the other two La Traviata's. As for my question at the beginning... definitely A LOT!
Verdi's La Traviata
An Opera in 3 Acts

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Based on La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils
A production of Opera Hong Kong
11-14 October 2012 (Thu to Sun) 7:45pm
14 October 2012 (Sun) 2:30pm
Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
$920, 750, 550, 350*, 150*

Creative Team:
Producer: Warren Mok
Conductor: Brian Schembri
Stage Director: Dieter Kaegi
Set and Costume Designer: William Orlandi
Lighting Designer: Roberto Venturi
Assistant Director: Gerald Stollwitzer
Choreographer: Florence C
Chorus Director: Jimmy Chan

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Opera Hong Kong Chorus

Violetta: Rachelle Durkin* / Corinne Winters^
Alfredo: Gianluca Terranova* / Bruno Ribeiro^
Germont: Silvio Zanon* / Mikael Babajanyan^
Flora: Carol Lin* / Melody Sze^
Annina: Joyce Wong* / Margaret Yim^
Gastone: Oliver Lo* / Alex Tam^
Douphol: Albert Lim
Marchese: Sammy Chien
Doctor Grenvil: Gong Dongjian
Giuseppe: Andrew Chan* / Wong Chi-lok^
Commissioner: Bryan Woo
Servant: Charles Tsang

*11, 13, 14/10 7:45pm ^12/10 7:45pm, 14/10 2:30pm

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

REVIEW: Sir James Galway with CCOHK

City Hall Concert Hall, Friday October 5

Sir James Galway is undoubtedly one of the most famous flautists in the world. Since leaving the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and starting his solo career in 1975, Galway has accumulated a discography of over 65 CDs that goes far beyond classical music and into popular and soundtrack music. And with over 30 million of his albums sold, it’s no wonder that City Hall was packed for the first of two concerts with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong.

Please click here to see my review for Time-Out Hong Kong.

Sir James Galway

Mozart: Flute Concerto no.2 in d, K.314
Mozart: Symphony no. 29 in a, K.201
Mozart: The magic Flutes (arr. david Overton)

Sir James Galway, flute / guest conductor
Lady Jeanne Galway, flute

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

SATOSHI on the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival

Advance booking for the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival starts today and I am happy to announce that I have already done it! So here are the shows I have booked for me and my friends in the order of importance (to me):

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Will HKPO Take a Request?

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has recently changed its 30-year-old logo for a new one to the surprise of its fans. Well, the surprise came with displeasure. In fact, the fans are so disappointed that a Facebook page, BRING BACK THE PREVIOUS HKPO LOGO was set up to protest. As of this writing, it has 166 supporters. Well, 166 may not sound like a lot, but the page is only 6-day-old. To put 166 into perspective, I have my Facebook page up since January of this year and I only got 151! I know a noted classical music writer who has set up his Facebook page since March 2011 has 163!

At the core of the protest is the fact that the previous logo is a better representation of the orchestra. The protest is about the total riddance of the previous one to give way to the new one. As one netizen Eric Li posted on Facebook stated, “The dragon logo is one of the best around the world! The new one looks like an amalgam of HSBC and Fairwood Fast Food.” Another netizen Steven Co posted, “The old one was a beautiful logo full of character and identified HKPO as a Chinese music ensemble... I thought it (the new one) looks like a butterfly or a modern hammer and sickle! Well, HKPO, you got it very wrong this time!!!”

As what Al Ries and Laura Ries, co-authors of “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding”, the most frequently violated law of branding is consistency. “Markets may change, but brands shouldn’t. They may be bent slightly or given a new slant, but their essential characteristics (once those characteristics are firmly planted in the mind) should never be changed.”
In the meantime, the HKPO has responded and explained that the new logo represents “conductor's baton movements”. Needless to say, this didn’t go down well with the fans. As Steven Co’s follow-up comment stated, “It is about having a very good well-liked logo that represents the Chinese city, the Chinese community it serves, the orchestra and the music that has now been reduced to a logo that represent only the conductor and looks like a corporate logo of Swire.” Others also echoed this sentiment; Mun Tam posted, “Can the conductor's baton movement represent HK and HKPhil? The previous logo represents HK and Music, the image is very clear and much better.
I don't see the need for changing logo.” Tszhim Ng posted, “And why replace a clef - used by many musicians in the orchestra - with a baton gesture used only by the conductor? Seriously... If they had wanted a more modern look they could have based it on the original icon, which is consider an excellent, effective design.”

So, will the HKPO get off its high horse? Is it too proud and elite to ever consider a simple and reasonable request from its stakeholders? OR will HKPO take a request?


Monday, October 1, 2012

REVIEW: My Big Gay Italian Wedding by WAG Productions

Fringe Club, Saturday September 29 2012

The show was flamingly camp, ridiculously silly and almost funny, but definitely a lot of fun.

The play, by Anthony J. Wilkinson, was more like a cabaret act and by that I am trying to indicate that the story is so contrived and so predictable that the construction of the plot must have been devised to create more of a theme or an excuse, rather than to underscore any form of personal truth or a perceptive insight into the human mind, attitudes or behavior. Once you get over that and treat the performance like a big fat cabaret act, then the fun really starts.

My Big Gay Italian Wedding is about Anthony Pinnunziato (played by Michael Rogers), a gay Italian-American who wants to marry his lover Andrew Polinski (played by Lester Clark) in a traditional Italian ceremony that he can’t afford. Anthony’s mother (played by Cindy Bayne) will only give her blessing if Andrew’s estranged mother gives her blessing and if the ceremony is performed by the family priest Father Rosalia (played by Damian Coory). Aside from the obvious problems, throw in Andrew’s jealous ex-lover, and then you get the gist of the show.

Directed by Wendy Herbert, who seemed to be aware of the shallowness and inadequacy of the material she chose, she inserted two “Shakespearean”-like sermons about love and relationships and a monologue by the wedding photographer. Unfortunately, these additions were so out-of-place that they broke the pace and rhythm of the whole show, rather than enhancing it.

The actors filled the show with every possible stereotype imaginable. Imagine the wealth of gesticulations, postures, intonations, make-ups and costumes that they can draw from being “gay” and “Italian”; and they did! Where they did not succeed in terms of variety, they certainly did in terms of intensity and frequency. The result was inevitably “amusing”.

Some of the better and believable performances came from Lester Clark’s Andrew and Jai Ignacio’s Gregorio. Their characters show normalcy amidst hysteria. Speaking of hysteria, Rye Bautista as the wedding planner Maurizio Legrande and Keon Lee as the fake mother of Andrew, were both deliciously over-the-top and funny. Ying Fu as the lesbian schemer behind the wedding was impressive in her debut. Last but not the least, Damian Coory as Father Rosalia was effortlessly comic especially in facial expression (he reminds me Rodney Dangerfield for some reason).

There remain two performances at the Hemingway’s Discovery Bay on October 5 and Grappa’s Cellar Central on October 7. Manage your expectations but please go, enjoy, have fun, laugh at it and with it.

My Big Gay Italian Wedding
by Anthony J. Wilkinson
Fringe Club, September 25-29 2012

Creative Team
Director: Wendy Herbert
Producers: Petra Fairweather, Michael Bradley
Stage Manager: Karly Cox
Musical Director: Micah Sandt
Choreography: Rye Bautista

Cast includes:
Anthony Pinnunziato: Michael Rogers
Andrew Polinski: Lester Clark
Angela Pinnunziato: Cindy Bayne
Joseph Pinnunziato: Albert Grey
Father Rosalia: Damian Coory
Maurizio Legrande: Rye Bautista
Gregorio: Jai Ignacio
Mario: Jason Clark
Lucy: Ying Fu
Connie - Lara Genovese
Maria: Cassandra Kaoustos
Rodney: Keon Lee
Aunt Tonnian: Ines Laimins
Frankie: Damien Barnes
Ensemble: Shirley Sheung & Matthew Taverner

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