China Focus: Curtain rises for another year of thriving cultural exchanges at prestige Chinese venue

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BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- In the first month of 2024, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) located in the Chinese capital Beijing is presenting an array of high-end performances brought by foreign artists.

In the first few weeks of the new year, numerous artists and art groups from abroad have already graced the NCPA stage with their performances, including the dance ensemble led by Spanish artist Maria Pages, the Royal National Ballet of Georgia, and Romanian pianist Andrei Ivanovitch.

Apart from inviting foreign artists to Beijing, a number of stage adaptations of classic foreign-language plays and other literary works created by Chinese artists also have or are expected to hit the stage at the NCPA.

For instance, the National Theatre of China's adaptation of "Cyrano de Bergerac," a masterpiece created by French playwright Edmond Rostand, was performed on Jan. 18.


To a large extent, the NCPA's schedule continues to exemplify the positive trend of cultural exchanges, which was evident in 2023.

In 2023, China's cultural market witnessed a substantial rise in the number of visiting foreign artists. With the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, cultural exchange and communication, previously hindered by travel restrictions, experienced a revitalization.

The NCPA, one of China's most esteemed cultural venues, staged an illustrious list of foreign-related live performances last year, reflecting the continuous expansion of China's cultural exchange with the rest of the world.

Toward the end of 2022, NCPA President Wang Ning extended invitations to art institutions worldwide, and received a warm response from global artists.

"I am very much looking forward to sharing this great music that is very close to my heart with the Beijing audiences," said Jan Vogler, German cellist and director of Dresden Music Festival, before visiting Beijing. The musician made his NCPA debut on March 12, 2023, presenting a recital featuring Bach's cello suites.

In the year, the NCPA welcomed about 20 artists and art groups from around the world. Notable names among them include pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and the Vienna Boys Choir.


Music and art can transcend barriers among people from different countries. Apart from inviting individuals and art groups, the venue in 2023 also hosted a plethora of national-level cultural exchange activities.

In November 2023, the Kazakhstan Culture Day Gala was held at the NCPA. The event resonated with the consensus reached by Chinese and Kazakh leaders on deepening cultural exchange at the China-Central Asia Summit held in May and allowed more Chinese audiences to savor the unique Kazakh culture.

In the same month, a special concert was held in the NCPA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a China tour by the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra from the United States. In 1973, the orchestra made its historic China tour, which marked a thaw in the China-U.S. cultural exchange before the official establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.

Violinist Davyd Booth, who at that time was part of the tour to China, can vividly recall the unforgettable experience. "The tour was one of the most important events in my life. The performance was incredible. It is still a strong thread that has continued for 50 years," Booth said.

"The Chinese appreciation of Western music has a long history. Now, the talents that come from China, like Lang Lang, are absolutely awesome. Every time we come back, the audience appreciation is really wonderful," Booth added.


Staging performances featuring foreign artists is only one aspect of the NCPA's cultural exchange spectrum. In recent years, the venue has engaged in extensive cooperation with foreign counterparts to create original works.

In September 2023, French composer Leo Delibes' renowned opera "Lakme" made its China debut. This version of the opera was the result of close cooperation between four cultural institutions, namely the NCPA, the Oman-based Royal Opera House Muscat, the Verona Arena Foundation in Italy, and the Los Angeles Opera House in the United States.

This year, the NCPA aims to inject new impetus into the international co-creation of performing arts. On Jan. 25, "Romeo et Juliette," the opera adaptation of the play "Romeo and Juliet" created by French composer Charles-Francois Gounod, will hit the stage at the NCPA.

Directed by acclaimed Italian opera director Stefano Poda, conducted by Chinese conductor Xu Zhong and starring actors and actresses from China, France, Italy and Germany, the opera presents a timeless tale by William Shakespeare to Chinese audiences in a refreshing form.

This is the first performance the venue will stage to mark the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France. Later in the year, more works of performing arts are expected to be staged to celebrate the occasion, including a drama based on Victor Hugo's celebrated novel "Les Miserables." Enditem

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