SHOW BIZ> Theater & Arts
Open the floodgates
By Chen Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-01 07:47

The China National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is determined to cover its opening season with a majestic aura. The Mariinsky Theater raised the season's curtain with the opera Prince Igor on Christmas Day and this week the Capitole Theater of Toulouse wraps up the program with another legendary opera Le Roi d'Ys (King of the Ys). The grand production features France's top opera stars and 13-tonnes of water, which is used to create a dramatic finale.


French opera King of the Ys is set to hit Beijing. File photo

Opera has been the real eye-catcher in NCPA's first season. Over the past three months, Prince Igor, Otello, Turandot and Chinese operas The Thunderstorm and Jiang Jie have been presented in the new center wowing opera fans from all over. "Beijing has never seen so many operas in such a short time. NCPA provides not only a splendid opera stage but a great effort to promote opera in China," says Yu Feng, chief conductor of the Central Opera of China, which joins in the production of King of the Ys.

King of the Ys is also the opening show of the annual Festival Croisements organized by the French Embassy and the French Culture Center. "Croisements" means communication in French and this opera production is the fruit of their joint efforts.

Well-known French conductor Michel Plasson will take the baton on April 3 to 5, while Yu will conduct the opera on April 6.

The orchestra and choir are from the Central Opera of China while the costume and the setting are from the Capitole Theater of Toulouse.

Nicolas Joel, who has been the director of the Opera de Toulouse for 16 years, directs the production. He will be the director of the Opera de Paris from next season.

A French cast, including sopranos Cecile Perrin, Nona Javakhize and tenor Luca Lombardo, will perform the four nights in turn with a Chinese cast including sopranos Wang Wei and Shen Na and tenor Jin Zhengjian.

"The purpose of the Festival Croisements is to provide opportunities for artists from both countries to exchange vision and experience in creating," says Pierre-Jean de San Bartolome, deputy director of the French Culture Center in China.

Conductor Plasson headed to the rehearsal room as soon as he arrived in Beijing on March 21. He was quite satisfied with the preparation work done by Yu and the orchestra.

"I did not expect that the orchestra rehearsal would go through so fast. It is a very professional orchestra and I could feel some chemistry when we work together. The choir also sounds wonderful," Plasson says.

"Plasson is an easy-going maestro," says Chinese assistant director Shen Liang.

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