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A feast for Beijing as divas arrive in town
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-06 11:18

A feast for Beijing as divas arrive in town

Angela Gheorghiu and Renee Fleming (left) are in Beijing to grace the city's most prestigious stages.

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It is the opera world's most common question: Who will be the next Maria Callas?

So far there has been no clear winner but on all accounts, Angela Gheorghiu and Renee Fleming must be two of the very best choices to inherit the mantle from the legendary Greek soprano. Now, Beijingers and visitors are about to receive a heaven-sent gift - both stars are in town to grace the city's most prestigious stages.

Tomorrow, Gheorghiu will give a solo concert at the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA) and raise the curtain of The Global Harmony - Divas in Beijing concert series. The five performances at the Great Hall of the People and the NCPA will feature eight world-renowned performers from leading opera houses in Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific region.

When Gheorghiu was granted a debut, playing Violetta in La Traviata in 1994, the opera world was struck by her beauty and incredible voice. Her sensuous vocal techniques and dazzling stage presence are widely said to leave her numerous rivals far behind.

Renee Fleming's performance with three other singers on August 16 at the NCPA will conclude the concert series. Acclaimed as "America's beautiful voice", the soprano has a devoted international following wherever she appears. Soprano Sumi Jo, known as the "No 1 Asian lyric coloratura soprano", is the only Asian among the eight operatic stars. She has been praised for her remarkable agility, precision, warmth of her coloratura voice and outstanding musicianship. The great conductor Karayan once called her voice "a gift given by God". Her solo concert will be on August 11 at the NCPA.

Immediately after the death of Pavarotti, Carreras announced there would be no more "Three Tenors". Innumerable would-be successors appeared until Marcello Giordani, Salvatore Licitra and Ramon Vargas finally stood out. The public's reaction seemed to confirm the arrival of a new celebrated line-up.

These superstars will also be in Beijing. The "Three New Tenors" concert will be on August 14 at the Great Hall of the People.

The closing performance will sparkle with starlights when "Siberian tiger", the world present chief baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky meets "Latin lover", the handsome German tenor Jonas Kaufmann. The concert also stars Renee Fleming and Sumi Jo.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky was a popular heavy-metal rock'n' roll singer before becoming a baritone. He received sudden acclaim in the operatic world in 2000 and he has widely been lauded as one of the finest baritones of the 21st century.

Kaufmann, meanwhile, has been hailed by Time magazine as "the most important and most versatile singer of our age". His perfect debut in La Traviata at Covent Garden in London two years ago won accolades from the media and public alike.