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Feast on this

By Chen Jie, Mu Qian, Raymond Zhou, Zhang Kun, Chen Nan and Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-22 09:53

Feast on this

Soprano He Hui as Amelia and Dai Yuqiang in the lead role of Riccardo, duet in the National Center for the Performing Arts' opera A Masked Ball. Provided to China Daily

Looking ahead in 2013, art fans will be served up a variety of flavorsome dishes, including heavyweight opera from Verdi and Wagner, pop from Adele and tasty treats in theater and film. Chen Jie, Mu Qian, Raymond Zhou, Zhang Kun, Chen Nan and Lin Qi report.

Feast on this

National Museum of China leads the way

Feast on this

Chou back with her big sound 

Feast on this

Mogao Grottoes murals prepped for digital display 

2013 is bound to be a big year for opera fans as the whole world is celebrating the bicentenary of two legendary composers. Born in 1813, the German Richard Wagner and the Italian Giuseppe Verdi took operatic theater in completely fresh directions. Their legacies are to be acknowledged this year in a worldwide bonanza of recordings and performances. Controversy, however, has reared its head, as La Scala decided to open its new season with a Wagner opera, in December, and kick-started a cultural debate that veered into politics. China, meanwhile, has raised itself for the occasion and will show that it could be the future and brightest hope of classical music. At its annual opera festival, the National Center for the Performing Arts will present Verdi's Otello, A Masked Ball and Nabucco. Naturally enough, the most eye-catching attraction will be Placido Domingo singing the title role of Nabucco. Though Domingo has visited Beijing a dozen times, including for the Three Tenors Concert at the Forbidden City in the summer of 2001, it will be the first time the renowned tenor will sing a full-length opera here.

Though NCPA favors Verdi over Wagner (with only one production, The Flying Dutchman), Beijing Music Festival will present Wagner's Parsifal, a long awaited debut for the opera in Asia.

Co-produced by Salzburg Easter Festival and Beijing Music Festival, the production, directed by Michael Schulz and with sets and costumes by Alexander Polzin, will be presented firstly in Salzburg, in March, before its performance at the Beijing Music Festival in October with the China Philharmonic Orchestra.

Parsifal was Wagner's last complete opera. The story takes place in the Middle Ages in the Kingdom of the Grail. Amfortas is entrusted with the protection of the Holy Grail, the mythical vessel containing Christ's blood, and the sacred spear with which Longinus pierced Christ's side on the cross. However, he is seduced by Kundry and the spear falls into the hands of Klingsor, an evil magician. The Grail Knights wait for a prophesied "guileless fool", one who will not succumb to Klingsor's temptations because he does not know sin, to recover the spear and heal Amfortas.

Not only opera houses and orchestras will celebrate the bicentenaries of the composers. On Friday, Beijing Symphony Orchestra will open its new season with Chinese soprano He Hui singing Verdi arias under the baton of its music director Tan Lihua, at the Forbidden City Concert Hall.

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