Henry Akina, longtime artistic director of Hawaii Opera Theatre, will be retiring at the end of this season, HOT announced today.
HOT’s upcoming production of Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann,” scheduled for April 21, 23 and 25 at Blaisdell Concert Hall, will be Akina’s last as artistic director. An exact date for his departure was not announced.
Akina was the first Hawaii native to become artistic director of HOT. A graduate of Punahou School, Akina attended Tufts University, graduating magna cum laude in psychology and drama and from there going to Germany to pursue an opera career. In Berlin, he established a chamber opera company, famously starting with “a piano, a conductor and some lights.” Over the years, he has created productions in France, China, Thailand and elsewhere in the U.S.
As artistic director of HOT, Akina premiered productions of “Tristan and Isolde,” “Die Walkure,” “Don Carlo,” “Elektra,” “Macbeth,” “Il Trittico” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He also established the Mae Z. Orvis Opera Studio, a training program for young opera singers.
In 2015, he received the Alfred Preis Honor for his contributions to the arts, and in 2016 he was honored by the state Legislature.
“I’m feeling bittersweet but the company is in good hands,” Akina said in a statement. “The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. There’s more to come.”