‘Opera Kanikapila’ available online by Hawaii Opera Theatre

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) – It is a jam session unlike any other. A local opera singer and an ‘ukulele virtuoso have combined their talents to bring “Opera Kanikapila.”

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Verdi baritone Quinn Kamakanalani Kelsey and ‘ukulele virtuoso Taimane Gardner are the talents behind this new project, putting an island twist on classical music.

It is called “Opera Kanikapila” by the Hawaii Opera Theatre, and includes a unique jam session that brings internationally acclaimed and award-winning talent together.      

The goal is to encourage the local community to expand their musical taste.

“It’s something that’s never been done before,” says Quinn Kamakanalani Kelsey, a Native Hawaiian opera singer.

“We’re finding that way to connect opera to the public,” Kelsey said. “We’re showing them that you can mix up opera with Hawaiian music, with kanikapila, and make it work.”

Opera arrived in Hawaii during the 19th century.

It was enjoyed by the Hawaiian monarchy but its interest within the general public was limited.

Kelsey is hoping to change that.

“I always thought how awesome would it be to at a solo concert and come walking out with my Nakeu shirt and an ‘ukulele and start playing that accompaniment,” Kelsey said.

“Local people would just go, oh right on, ‘ukulele,” he said. “But all the classical music people would go, oh my god, I know exactly what that it. Oh my god, he’s playing ‘ukulele to Mozart.”

“Operas not one thing any more than ‘ukulele is one thing or hula is one thing,” says Andrew Morgan, marketing director of Hawaii Opera Theatre.

“There’s a lot of different perspectives,” Morgan said, “and I would say this gives people a little taste of what opera can be and also what we as a company, Hawaii Opera Theatre, can be to the community.”

“Opera Kanikapila” is just the first part to a larger project called “Hapa Opera.”  

All proceeds from this kanikapila will contribute back to Hawaii Opera Theatre, its future productions and their free education programs for schools.  

To see more of those performances, click here.

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