‘The Curse of Lou-Ling’ wraps up Kaua‘i opera tour

LIHU‘E — “The Curse of Lou-Ling” is an adaptation of a work of Giaccomo Pucchini and its presentation to students at the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School Friday wrapped up a week-long tour by Hawai‘i Opera Theatre performers.

The students sat mesmerized through the 45-minute performance about a Chinese princess who is beaten at her own riddle-solving game and is presented with a dilemma in the process.

“This is very appropriate because Chinese New Year’s falls on Feb. 10,” said Vicky Ramos, an English as second language instructor. “We can use this to tie in the event with opera.”

“The Curse of Lou-Ling” is a simplified version of Puccini’s “Turandot,” the story of a haughty princess, a prince in disguise who wishes to marry her, and the next-to-impossible feat she requires of him in order to give him her hand.

“Turandot” will open the opera’s 2013–14 season next fall, states a release from LaReaux Communications on O‘ahu.

During the presentations at various schools around Kaua‘i, three singers and a pianist take the children through an interactive journey through opera, Jade Jeon, a HOT performer, doing an effective job of appearing ahead of the performance and getting the children to sing along with some of the numbers in the song, accompanied by pianist Eric Schank.

A teaching manual was provided to teachers ahead of the group’s appearance.

Jeon also effectively injected the touring show, offered to more than 40 schools around the state through the HOT Opera Express program, is funded by the Mae Z. Orvis Training Program of the New York-based Orvis Foundation.

“We really want to thank and acknowledge the Wilcox Foundation who made it possible for us to present this to Kaua‘i schools,” Schank said. “We’re appreciative of the fact the Wilcox Foundation recognizes the value the HOT offers students.”

The tour started Monday with a presentation at the Koloa Elementary School before moving to the Kilauea Elementary School Tuesday. Wednesday, the HOT Opera Express visited the Kalaheo Elementary School for two performances before dropping in on the Hanalei Elementary School on Thursday and wrapping up its tour with two performances at the Wilcox School Friday.

Joining Jeon and Schank on tour, Erik Haines portrayed the prince and Blythe Kelsey blew out the windows with her powerful voice as both the servant to the prince and doubling as the princess.

Following the short presentation, which kept most of the students riveted in place, Haines, who initiated the touring program for HOT, prompted the audience for questions which ranged from “Where do you get your costumes?” to more in-depth discussions about wigs, the students being surprised to learn the prince’s wig once enjoyed life as Jack Sparrow’s wig on the “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The Opera Express program is just one art of HOT’s educational program, which includes backstage tours and attendance at opera dress rehearsal nights, residencies for older children who actually produce and sing a mini-opera for their fellow students, and coordinating opera lecture series prior to the three operas offered each season.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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