Tianjin festival offers a feast for city's opera fans

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The ongoing Tianjin opera festival features six productions, including Carmen and A Masked Ball. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1978, the China National Opera House staged Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata, which was conducted by Zheng Xiaoying in Tianjin.

It did 40 performances in a row, and the opera attracted more than 80,000 people, which was a phenomenon for the northern Chinese city at the time.

However, no Western operas were staged there from then until 2013.

In 2012, the Tianjin Grand Theater was launched. And Tianjin's local chorus and symphony orchestras performed Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca under the baton of Tang Muhai, as the opening performance for the theater.

Tosca was a joint production of the Tianjin Grand Theater and the Puccini Festival, an annual opera festival held in Italy every summer.

Over two nights, the opera attracted more than 2,000 people, and most importantly, it laid the foundation for more Western opera productions to visit Tianjin.

In 2014, the Tianjin Grand Theater launched the Tianjin International Opera and Dance Festival, an annual event which aims to promote opera in the city.

Now, in its fourth year, the festival is being held at the Tianjin Grand Theater over Nov 9-30, with six opera productions by three Italian opera companies doing 12 performances.

The Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, or Rome Opera House, kicked off the festival with French composer Georges Bizet's classic opera Carmen on Nov 9 and 11. It will perform La Traviata on Nov 23 and 25.

"These two operas are classics, and in our productions audiences see visual spectacles with new choreography and stage sets, especially the violent scene in Carmen," says director Giandomenico Vaccari.

As for the other performances, Italian opera house, the Teatro Regio di Parma, will perform Puccini's La boheme on Nov 18 and Verdi's A Masked Ball on Nov 19.

The ongoing Tianjin opera festival features six productions, including Carmen and A Masked Ball. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti will perform Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville on Nov 12 and Mozart's Don Giovanni on Nov 26.

"All these six opera productions have come to Tianjin for the first time," says Guo Rui, the publicity director of Tianjin Grand Theater.

Since the first Tianjin International Opera and Dance Festival, more people in Tianjin have learned to enjoy the art form, says Guo. In 2016, 20 opera productions were staged during the festival, and they attracted over 60,000 people.

The festival is also attracting other Western theater companies to Tianjin.

For example, in its first year, Russian opera War and Peace, based on Leo Tolstoy's acclaimed novel of the same title, made its China debut at the event.

Besides opera productions, dance performances are also featured during the festival.

This year, Polish Dance Theater will showcase two contemporary works-The Harvest, choreographed by the theater's director Iwona Pasinska; and Bittersweet, by Polish dancer-choreographer Kaya Kołodziejcz-on Nov 29 and 30.

The Poznan-based theater, founded in 1973, is one of the best-known avant-garde dance ensembles in Poland.

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