It’s true that Hawaii is absolutely beautiful. I am currently conducting La Traviata for the Hawaii Opera Theater (HOT) in Honolulu. I have been fortunate enough to have conducted here a few times now and there is no doubt it is truly a great place to work. Aside from the obvious benefits of being in a warm, picturesque location during February, what really makes this a rewarding experience are the people directly involved with the show. The chorus comprises a group of very talented individuals who not only sing beautifully but are extremely friendly and welcoming holding elaborate tailgate parties after every rehearsal. Individual choristers bring a variety of dishes to be shared with everyone in the cast. I sampled some of the best homemade sausage I’ve ever eaten the other night. Another chorister makes a beautiful homemade stout and brought some in especially for me. And yet another chorister gives tours at the King’s Palace and makes an effort to arrange a tour around the visiting artists’ schedules. It is well worth it as he is an excellent tour guide and even sings a little during the tour for the tourists.
Previously, the orchestra that performed for Hawaii Opera was the Honolulu Symphony. Sadly, that fine orchestra has recently gone bankrupt after being in business for 110 years. Fortunately, many of the musicians remain in Hawaii and HOT has been able to assemble their own excellent orchestra. The rehearsals with them have been a great pleasure as they are enthusiastic, supportive and talented. A terrific combination.
Of course, my colleagues think I am simply hanging around the beach all day but in fact the schedule here is very grueling. The schedule does not allow a day-off for the conductor for over three weeks in a row. I got lucky break one day and had an unscheduled day-off due to the director being ill so I did get to enjoy the beach for a while!
Many artists tell me that Opera Lyra Ottawa is a wonderful place to work as well. Our staff takes great pride in creating a supportive and friendly atmosphere. In my opinion, this benefits the creative process. Nevertheless, it pays to be open to new ideas and there are one or two things I learned here in Hawaii which I hope to implement in Ottawa.