Coming attractions: theatrical diversity amid virus adversity
Famous Chinese artists like composer and conductor Tan Dun and pianist Lang Lang will join a number of international stars in the 2020-21 season of performances at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.
The 12-month season schedule was unveiled this week, with 78 programs and 129 performances spanning symphonic, chamber music, opera, drama, dance and crossover productions. It comes amid upheaval in the live-performance sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to Tan and Lang, the Chinese line-up includes renowned violinist Lu Siqing and Russian conductors Valery Gergiev and Yuri Temirkanov, and the Royal Danish Ballet.
“Coronavirus has seriously affected the global performance industry,” said Lei Wen, general manager of the art center. “We have kept in frequent communication with our foreign artist friends and troupes in setting this schedule. We really hope the performances can proceed as planned, as live performances begin a slow return to normal.”
In the remaining four months of 2020, domestic artists and troupes will continue to dominate the stage of the art center.
The National Ballet of China will perform selections from the “La Sylphide,” “L’Arlesienne” and “Carmen” on October 4-5. The troupe will then return with the classic “Onegin” on January 22-23.
On October 10, conductor Tan will join hands with Mongolian rock band Hanggai for an innovative concert entitled “Rock the Symphony’N Roll: Bach.” Tan has recomposed some of his experimental works for the concert. Hanggai combines rock and ethnic music elements in its performance.
Pianist Lang will perform Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” on December 9. Violinist Lu is set to perform on March 5. Before that date, he will join the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra for a concert on November 25.
Four Beethoven-themed concerts by domestic conductors and orchestras have been scheduled to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the master composer.
Conductor Chen Xieyang and the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra will perform a concert of “Eroica and Earthlings” on September 5. It includes Beethoven’s No. 3 and No. 7 symphonies.
Chen was named president of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in 1984. When the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra was established four years ago, he took over as musical director.
The second concert of the series, “Fate and Faith,” will be performed by conductor Yu Lu and the Ningbo Symphony Orchestra. The program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 5.
Yu, 31, is the protege of famed Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who has praised him as one of the most talented young conductors he’s ever encountered.
On October 31, China National Opera House principal conductor Yang Yang will lead the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra in a program called “Rhyme and Roman,” featuring violinist Huang Bin. It will feature Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D minor and his Symphony No. 4.
The Beethoven series final, “Joy and Jubilation,” will be performed by 95-year-old veteran conductor Cao Peng and the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra on December 13. Cao’s daughter, violinist Cao Xiaoxia, will perform Beethoven’s first and second romances for violin and orchestra.
The first performance by overseas artists will take place in a New Year ballet gala, starring Russian dancer Julian Mackay. The Mikhailovsky Theater’s youngest soloist will perform on January 15-16, together with another seven top dancers from around the world.
Canada’s Les Grands Ballets will perform two ballet dramas, including “Carmina Burana,” from March 31 to April 1.
The Portugal Quorum Ballet will bring its new version of the ballet drama “Romeo and Juliet” to Shanghai on May 14-15, and the Royal Danish Ballet will present a ballet gala on June 25-26.
Shanghai’s classical music fans still have fresh memories of Russian conductor Gergiev leading the Mariinsky Orchestra in a concert at the Oriental Art Center last November. The pronunciation of Gergiev is similar to jiefu in Chinese, which means brother-in-law. Therefore, Gergiev has been nicknamed “brother-in-law” by Chinese fans.
On April 21, Gergiev will return to Shanghai, this time with the Munich Philharmonic, in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan.
Earlier that month, Russian conductor Temirkanov will lead his St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert on April 11. Temirkanov has been the music director and chief conductor of the orchestra since 1988.
Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin will lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in a concert on May 29. The program features Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Chinese composer Lu Qiming’s “Ode to the Red Flag.”
In drama, the art center will present “Memories of Matsuko,” which is based on the novel of the same name by Japanese writer Muneki Yamada. It will be staged on October 23-25, directed by Zhao Miao and starring Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu.
The National Theater of China is bringing its signature drama “The Gate of Reign” to Shanghai on November 20-21.
Chinese transgender dancer Jin Xing will go beyond dancing in 2021. She will be directing and acting in the drama “Sunrise,” based on Chinese playwright Cao Yu’s 1936 work of the same name.
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. To honor the milestone, the original drama “The Road We Have Taken,” directed by China’s Chen Xinyi, will be staged on July 1-4.
“The Road We Have Taken” is based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Chinese writer Jiang Qitao. The work was adapted into a highly popular TV series in 2009. The story focuses on three children in a big family in Hunan Province and their search for a political path through the turbulent years between 1925 and 1949.
National Ballet of China will perform its signature “Red Detachment of Women” on June 18-19.
Shanghai Peking Opera Theater and Shanghai Huju Opera Theater will also present patriotic performances.
Crossover performances in the new season include concerts by Shanghai Rainbow Chamber on October 1 and on January 30-31.
Fusion singer Gong Linna will present a vocal concert themed on ancient poetry on October 18. Chinese singer-actress Aduo will join hands with the Future Ethnic Orchestra for a concert on November 1, and Brazilian-Japanese bossa nova queen Lisa Ono will perform for Shanghai audiences on March 14.