Historic theater ready for grand reopening

The historic Great Theater of China near People's Square will reopen in June after a major renovation and feature performances from both home and abroad.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

The historic Great Theater of China on Niuzhuang Road near People’s Square will reopen in June after a major renovation. Over 50 operas and concerts from home and abroad will be staged at the 88-year-old theater. 

The historic Great Theater of China near People’s Square will reopen in June after a major renovation and feature performances from both home and abroad.

The reopening is part of the local government’s plan to offer a wider range of performances near downtown landmarks.

As a highlight, over 50 operas and concerts will be staged at the 88-year-old theater to mark the completion of a major renovation that began in 2014.

The theater at 704 Niuzhuang Road in downtown Huangpu District was built in 1929 as one of the city’s four major Peking Opera venues. Peking Opera masters Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu and Yuan Shihai often performed there. From the 1950s, it became a popular stage for local people to watch all kinds of Chinese traditional opera. The building was listed as a protected structure in 2005.

It will reopen to the public with 1,080 seats for modern operas, musical dramas and dances, said an official with Shanghai Ever Shining Cultural Group, which will operate the venue.

The renovation reinforced the four-story concrete structure and improved facilities. The appearance and inner decoration, especially its iconic tower, are being restored to the original design.

The first batch of performances, including over 10 operas and performances from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States and Japan, will be staged at the theater between June and September. After that, many of the shows will be performed in office buildings, communities and campuses around the district.

Concerts, including Kunqu Opera and jazz, will also be staged near the Bund, People’s Square, Xintiandi, the Huangpu River waterfront and communities in Huangpu District through the end of the year, said Xu Yanqing, director of the Huangpu culture bureau.

The efforts are intended to boost the cultural atmosphere of the downtown region, especially with traditional Chinese culture and outstanding foreign culture, Xu said.

Over 40 outdoor concerts will also be held in the grass area in front of the Shanghai Concert Hall on Yan’an Road E. throughout the year. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will perform the first concert on May 4.

On the Huangpu River waterfront, a concert, opera or magic show will be performed every Friday night from September, Xu said.

Hundreds of other performances, mostly singing or jazz concerts, will be held at the Cool Docks, Yifeng Galleria and the Jazz at Lincoln Center near the Bund.

A number of performances will also be staged at major shopping centers, Sinan Mansions and Xintiandi.

“Among them, most of the foreign performances will be staged in the city for the first time to offer brand new art experiences for residents,” said Cao Xiaomin, deputy director of the district’s publicity department.

Meanwhile, the district government released a batch of new measures to support the development of brick-and-mortar bookshops in a bid to encourage reading.

Bookshops in Huangpu are being encouraged to renovate and combine with cinema and restaurant or other innovative businesses.

Smaller bookstores will be opened in office buildings, shopping malls, tourism spots, hotels, restaurants, banks and entertainment sites.

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