Beijing Music Festival Focuses on France

Classic Arts News   Beijing Music Festival Focuses on France
The seventh annual Beijing Music Festival opens this week with Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. It is the first time the festival, which runs from October 14 through November 5, has opened with an opera.

The Shanghai Opera Chorus and China Philharmonic Orchestra, along with a cast of mostly Chinese performers, will perform Nicolas Joel's version of the opera, created for Th_ê¢tre du Capitole in Toulouse, with that production's sets, costumes, and lighting design. Long Yu, the music festival's artistic director, will conduct.

The choice of a French opera to open the festival honors the French-China cultural exchange project created in 1999 by French president Jacques Chirac and Chinese president Jiang Zemin. "A Year of France in China," bringing a series of events celebrating French heritage and culture to China, begins this month; last year's "A Year of China in France" brought Chinese programs to France.

This year's festival features 24 concerts of internationally known conductors, instrumentalists, and orchestras, as well as traditional Chinese works and the Ming Dynasty-era opera Peony Pavilion. Guests include the Orchestre de Paris, Christoph Eschenbach, Emanuel Ax, the Eroica Trio, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The Beijing Music Festival was created to address China's cultural isolation after the Cultural Revolution by bringing Western music into China. To that end, sixteen of the works included in this year's festival are Chinese premieres.

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