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Opera has been part of island culture for more than a century. Its connection, which stretches back as far as the 1850s, still has a strong foothold even today, attracting a diverse audience of young professionals, families and traditional opera patrons along with new-to-opera supporters who believe this artform must continue to help define the artistic fabric of Hawaii's cultural community. Queen Emma sang in the chorus of Verdi's Il Trovatore while her husband, King Kamehameha IV served as the stage manager! Queen Liliuokalani is said to have composed her own opera. Today, over 400 volunteers dedicate their time and talent to help stage Grand Opera in Hawaii. Many international cast members compete up to three years in advance for HOT's coveted roles and the chance to perform in paradise, while escaping some of the coldest months of the year elsewhere in the world.