Hawaii Opera Theatre
The Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) is an opera company located in Honolulu, Hawaii, which became active in 1961. The company typically performs three operas during February and March in Blaisdell Concert Hall. A summer production of a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan or a musical was added beginning in 2004.
The first opera to be presented was Puccini's Madama Butterfly which was performed in McKinley High School auditorium in Honolulu in 1961. For the next two decades the company was part of the Honolulu Symphony. In 1980 it became an independent tax-exempt corporation. The first independent season was in 1981 and consisted of three productions: La Bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Carmen. Supertitles were introduced in 1987, and 1989 was the first year in which all available seats were sold before opening night. By 1993 HOT membership had exceeded 2,000 individuals. The current General and Artistic Director, Hawaii-born Henry G. Akina, joined the company in 1996.
The year 2002 saw HOT's "Bad Girl Season" with productions of La Traviata, Salome, and Carmen. Sets and costumes for Salome were designed by artist Thomas Woodruff. The 2007 production of Madama Butterfly, a co-production with Opera Omaha, featured set and costume designs by the visual artist Jun Kaneko.
The Summer Season was launched in 2004 with Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, followed by The Pirates of Penzance (2005), The King and I with Richard Chamberlain (2006), South Pacific (2007), and A Little Night Music (2008). The summer production for 2009 was cancelled for budgetary reasons. Charity Navigator has awarded the company its top "4-star" rating for responsible fiscal management since 2007.
A classroom-based education program was begun in 1981 and was expanded to more elementary and high school grade levels in 1984. A program called "Opera Highlights" became part of the curriculum of the University of Hawaii's College of Continuing Education in 1983. HOT now has several educational programs, most notably its "Opera For Everyone" (OFE) program. OFE allows students to participate in all aspects of an opera production from technical crew to performing to simply watching an opera. The final dress rehearsal is opened up to students for a reduced price, usually on a Wednesday night. Other aspects of the show are assisted by OFE participants who can help in such aspects as set building, costuming and makeup, or performance. This is a rare opportunity offered to students who may pursue careers in opera in the future, and is one of the programs that makes HOT unique.
- Beebe Freitas - Head of Music (as of August 2014)