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Two of classical music's greats honored at Beijing fest

2013-10-25 13:59:37

(China Daily) By CHEN NAN


Catherine Cai (third from the right) with musicians and organizers of the Beijing Music Festival.

The 16th Beijing Music Festival will close with the Chinese premiere of Richard Wagner's Parsifal on Oct 29 and 31 in Beijing Poly Theatre.


The year 2013 marks the bicentennial of the birth of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, commonly regarded as two of history's greatest composers.

Launched on Oct 4, the festival this year features the most operas in its history, with a total of five masterpieces.

Western classical music, especially opera, has become one significant part of Beijing's evolving arts scene. Over the past few years, the capital has played host to some major opera productions from around the world.

Parsifal is the crowning achievement among Richard Wagner's most successful works.

Lasting four and a half hours, the epic is a co-production of the Beijing Music Festival and the Salzburg Easter Festival, a classical music festival in Austria. The other co-producers include famous German opera house Sachsische Staatsoper Dresden and Teatro Real, the major opera house in Spain.

German director Michael Schultz has reinterpreted the classic tale by Wagner, while Austrian conductor Gustav Kuhn will lead the China Philharmonic Orchestra to perform the opera's debut in China.

The festival also features some of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpieces at the Forbidden City Concert Hall from Oct 22 to 27, including Requiem, A Masked Ball and Aida.

From Oct 25 to 27, semi-staged productions of Verdi's most famous works Rigoletto, The Troubadour and La Traviata, will also be presented on the stage of the Forbidden City Concert Hall.

The Beijing Music Festival presents a variety of classical music shows. Among them, opera has always had a high place on the agenda.

The festival is growing into a platform for event organizers seeking to promote opera in China's growing market for the arts, organizers said.

"China is in the middle of an opera boom. Large numbers of opera houses have either been recently completed or are in the final stages of construction," said Catherine Cai, head of investment banking in China at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the top sponsor of this year's Beijing Music Festival.

"Opera is growing faster in China than in almost anywhere else in the world, and we're really pleased to help bring world-class performances to China that can further satisfy this interest," Cai said.

She said that the premiere of Parsifal shows the potential of music to promote cultural exchange and understanding among nations.

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