Obituary: Stage Director Henry Akina Dies at 68

By Francisco Salazar

Stage director and former Artistic Director of Hawai’i Opera Theatre Henry Akina has died at the age of 68.

Akina worked with the Hawaii Opera Theatre for more than 30 years and retired from his position as Artistic Director in 2017. His final opera with the company was Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann.”

Akina was the first Hawai’i native to become artistic director of HOT and went on to direct such operas as “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.

He was a graduate of Punahou School and attended Tufts University. He went to Germany to pursue an opera career and founded the Berliner Kammeroper. He went on to create productions in France, China, Thailand, and the U.S.

Throughout his lifetime, Akina received numerous accolades including the Alfred Preis Honor and was honored by the state Legislature.

The Hawai’i Opera Theatre released a statement noting, “With heavy hearts and deepest gratitude, Hawai‘i Opera Theatre pays tribute to the remarkable life and enduring legacy of Henry Akina. As we pause to remember and honor the memory of this incredible individual, we celebrate the profound impact he had on our company and our community. For two decades, Henry dedicated his talents to Hawai‘i Opera Theatre as an Artistic Director, becoming the first Hawaiian to hold this position. Under his passionate and visionary guidance, the company produced over 120 breathtaking productions and fostered a loving community of artists and supporters. Henry’s love for opera and his ability to unite people through music made him a beloved figure in our community. He always shared his love with such warmth and kindness. As we honor his memory, we pledge to carry forward his spirit, ensuring that opera and the beautiful community that he helped build around it, continue to flourish in Hawai‘i.”