Hawai‘i Opera Has a New Home in Kaka‘ako

This month, watch the Hawai‘i Opera Theatre performances in a new venue.
Photo: Cory Lum


Hawai‘i Opera Theatre, which was renting a rehearsal space on Beretania Street on a month-to-month basis, found out it would have to relocate just one month before the opening of Madam Butterfly this past October. Talk about drama.


Since resettling in a Kaka‘ako warehouse, HOT’s executive director, Simon Crookall, says the forced move turned out to be a blessing in disguise.


“It’s been amazing,” Crookall says of the large warehouse, which has two separate rooms, great acoustics and also houses Honolulu Night Market and other Our Kaka‘ako events. “Had we not been in the warehouse, we would not have been able to rig it for rehearsal [of The Flying Dutchman],” which used a complicated system of ropes to mimic a real ship. “It’s been very helpful. I don’t know what we’d have done in the old space.”


This month, HOT puts on Siren Song—a contemporary piece about a British sailor misled in a catfish scandal by someone posing as a model—in the warehouse, rather than at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, its usual production venue. It’s a small show for HOT, and, since the staff was planning on staging an opera in Kaka‘ako even before the move, things worked out perfectly. “It’s an urban-style piece,” Crookall says, better suited to the area than a 2,000-seat hall.


The group plans to use the space for the rest of this season but still needs to find a permanent solution. In the meantime, Crookall says he’s excited to be part of the Kaka‘ako scene. “For an arts district, you need to have artists living and working there,” he says, praising the Hawai‘i Community Development Authority’s approval of artist lofts in the neighborhood. “For these kinds of areas to be successful, you need to hear artistic activity every day. It brings life to an area.”


Siren Song runs March 20, 21, 27 and 28, at 445 Cooke St., hawaiiopera.org


Read more stories by Katrina Valcourt