Hohepa’s Fearsome High Notes

“Based on a true story spanning nearly 150 years, Hohepa lays bare some of New Zealand’s most painful wounds — and seeks to heal them through music,” Mike Silverman of the Associated Press writes. “The opera, given its world premiere as part of this year’s New Zealand International Arts Festival, is the creation of composer Jenny McLeod, who wrote both music and text (part English, part Maori). As performed in a simple and eloquent production there are moments of beauty and power, though ultimately what McLeod has written seems more history lesson than dramatic narrative. Tenor Nicky Spence sang with bright ardor as Mason, and soprano Jenny Wollerman rose with pluck to some fearsome high notes as Jane. Soprano Deborah Wai Kapohe brought luscious tone to the role of Hohepa’s wife, Te Rai, and bass Martin Snell was a chilling governor.”

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