Elevated spirits: ‘Opera on the Rocks’

  • Sabina Balsamo and Ciara Emily Newman, both artistic administration interns and sopranos, appropriately sang from roles for young women. (Steve Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Jennifer McGregor sang Carlos Guastavino’s “The Rose and the Willow” with exquisite tenderness, and since Guastavino also composed for piano, it was more like a voice/piano duet. (Steve Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • David Drettwan from the Developing Singers program sang Mozart’s beloved aria “Non piu andrai” from The Marriage of Figaro. (Steve Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Sabina Balsamo and Ciara Emily Newman, both artistic administration interns and sopranos, appropriately sang from roles for young women. (Steve Roby/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Imagine you’re in a cozy little cabaret, maybe in Paris. Sitting at small tables, with the bar open for business, you can look straight into the eyes of the singers performing just feet away from you. Well, the Hilo Palace Theater lobby transported us there for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s “Opera on the Rocks,” one of my favorite musical events of pre-COVID years, and now, finally, back again! This is theater up close and personal, with the resonance of the voices injecting an electric charge into the atmosphere that reverberates to the bone. You don’t just hear the music; you feel it.