Opera Scotland

Hawaiian-language opera for Fringe

Posted 28 Mar 2019

The Battle of Kuamoo a new opera in the Hawaiian language, is reportedly headed for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In August, 25 students from Kamehameha Schools will travel to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an annual performing arts festival in Scotland, to perform the opera in front of a worldwide audience.

“It’s the largest performing arts festival in the world,” Mahelona said. “Every August, they host 3,000 to 4,000 separate acts that converge in Edinburgh. When I went last year, I think there was about 3,800 acts you could see, and that’s 3,800 individual shows you can watch throughout the month of August. So we’ll be one of those over 3,000 shows. And the only show all in Hawaiian.”

The entire opera was performed recently by all 575 high school students at Kamehameha Schools in Keaau, and the 25 chosen to perform in Scotland will also perform on June 15 at the University of Hawaii – Hilo with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra. The music will be recorded and taken to Scotland with Mahelona and the students to use as the soundtrack during their performance.

It’s not the first time Mahelona and Kamehameha Schools have teamed up to perform one of his nine operas abroad. In 2016, the students performed Mahelona’s opera Haupu, at the same festival. It was the first Hawaiian-language piece performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“In 2016, we decided to take a Hawaiian opera. We decided to gamble, that we would just do it all in Hawaiian, and work really hard to make the emotional beats discernible, and see if people could get something out of it,” Mahelona said. “And it was a huge hit. The kids were the celebrities of the festival.”

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