The month of January has traditionally been one in which the LCH choir gets a break from Thursday rehearsals — and that is because at one time, several of the members went to sing in the chorus at Hawaii Opera Theatre. However, only David Del Rocco and Paul Schwind in the bass section were in last weekend’s opera production, Aida, but the choir has Thursdays off, anyway. I’ve really appreciated the break!
We were thrilled that mezzo-soprano, Mary Phillips was cast as Amneris, and her twin sister, Lori Phillips, was Aida. I always thought it interesting that identical twins would both be opera singers, but one would be a mezzo and the other a soprano. We asked Mary about it, and they decided early on in their careers to focus on different repertoire.
You see, we first met Mary in the year 2000 when she came to sing in the Lutheran Church of Honolulu’s groundbreaking performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. She and bass Philip Cutlip and their son, Max, were our houseguests that week of rehearsals and the concerts. Since then we saw her and Philip in Glasgow, Scotland, where she sang Wagner’s Ring. Carl also saw them once in Boston. Mary came to Hawaii to sing Mahler with the Honolulu Symphony and Die Walküre with Hawaii Opera Theatre.
Aida was really a family affair not only with the Phillips sisters, but also the Kelsey family. Baritone Quinn Kelsey (who once sang a Bach cantata solo with LCH) was joined by his sister, Blythe Kelsey Takemasu, who sang the role of the High Priestess, and mother Debbie Kelsey was in the chorus.
Today the media was full of the good news about the newly-formed Hawaii Symphony — and that concerts will be presented starting March 4th. Talk about rising from the ashes! They really blitzed the media with this news — there was a full-page spread in the newspaper, a piece on the television news and also a story and interview on Hawaii Public Radio.
It will be so good to have a live orchestra in Honolulu once more!