After a long, cold winter, Beijing theater is springing back to life with the NCPA Opera Festival. Running from April 4 to June 28, the festival will feature a strong selection of popular operas for the capital’s opera aficionados.
Since its first performance of a Western opera (Turandot in 2008), the NCPA has staged over 20 operas in the past four years. Because of its status as a young theater in a country where opera audiences are still small, the NCPA focused first on producing well-known operas, such as Turandot, Madame Butterfly, Carmen, Rigoletto and La Traviata. This is also why NCPA productions tend to stay close to the original work, while slowly sprinkling in more modern elements.
At the same time, the theater is also trying to put its own unique twist on performances, to try something a little different. In a previous production of Madame Butterfly, for example, the set design was deliberately minimal, to create a surreal and contemporary setting for the story.
Opera is a comprehensive stage art, and theater skills are very important. In order to build a strong theater team, the NCPA is not only inviting world class directors, conductors, singers and light and costume designers, but is also focusing on building a solid management team, including the orchestra and prop department, with the goal of making it the best in China.
Performances Scheduled For 2012
For the fourth annual Opera Festival, the NCPA’s hard work will be put to the test with an array of eight operas spread out over three months, including two classic NCPA productions—The Flying Dutchman and A Masked Ball—and an original creation, The Ballad of Canal. Four other opera troupes have been invited to come and perform, and the NCPA will also stage its production of the popular opera Tosca.
In a nod to the upcoming 200th anniversary of the birth of celebrated German composer Richard Wagner, the NCPA has invited the famous Italian opera director Gian-Carlo del Monaco—who previously directed Tosca last May—to helm The Flying Dutchman. Soprano He Hui is expected to steal the show in Verdi’s A Masked Ball. This is internationally-renowned He’s debut domestic performance.
Opera fans won’t want to miss the productions of invited troupes, which include Korea National Opera’s La Bohème—in which premier conductor Myung-Whun Chung leads the orchestra—Earthen Building by the Fujian Song and Dance Theater, Red Cliff by the China Opera Theater and China National Opera House’s rendition of Wagner’s Tanhauser, which will close out the festival on June 27.
In addition, opera fans can look forward to Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, the worldwide opera competition that will make its China debut during the opera festival. The founder of the competition, Plácido Domingo, will attend the last concert of the festival in person, and will conduct the orchestra.
In addition to a selection of stellar shows, those keen on all things opera can attend a number of educational events, such as workshops and weekend concerts, opera lectures, master classes and even sit in on some opera crew meetings to find out what really happens behind the scenes.
What: NCPA Opera Festival
Where: The National Center for the Performing Arts
When: Wed., April 4 to Thu., June 28