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First international performance season opens at NCPA
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Starting from December 22, 2007, the first international performance season was opened at the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA), also known as the Grand National Theater. More than 180 performances, in the forms of opera, pantomime, concert, drama, or Chinese operas, would be staged. The performance season will last until April 6, 2008.

The egg-shaped futuristic National Center for the Performing Arts of China was officially opened with senior Communist Party leader Li Changchun and other officials at present at the inaugural concert, Beijing, Dec. 22, 2007. (file photo)

On Christmas night, Valery Gergiev conducted a performance of Borodin's Prince Igor to an enthusiastic audience. Gergiev, leading performer of the Maryinsky Theater, has become the first foreign artist to climb atop the podium of the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA). The current run, which also includes Swan Lake and two other repertory pieces by Kirov Ballet, will run until January 6. This is the biggest overseas performing arts company to grace a stage in China, comprising some 510 people, said Zhang Yu, general manager of China Arts and Entertainment Group. There are 60 ballet dancers for the opening alone.

In addition to the Mariinsky Theater of Russia, famous foreign art troupes, such as the New York Philharmonic, will take the stage.

On December 31 and January 1, Beijing's new performing arts center launches its first international concert, featuring the China National Symphony orchestra led by acclaimed Japanese director Seiji Ozawa, superstar Chinese pianist Lang Lang, luminary Soprano Kathleen Battle, and Russia's leading violinist Vadim Repin. The next day, also at the NCPA, the 63-year-old Te Kanawa will give her highly anticipated mainland China debut.

A five-time Grammy Award winner, US soprano Battle's repertoire embraces jazz and spirituals, as well as an uncommonly wide range of classical music, from the Baroque, Handel, Strauss to composer Andre Previn's song cycle Honey and Rue, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Battle, with lyrics by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

Photo taken on Sept. 17, 2007 shows the interior of the newly completed China's National Grand Theater in Beijing. A series of performances will take place to test the equipment of the multi-billion-yuan construction starting from Sept. 25, 2007, according to local media. (photo: Xinhua) 

New Zealander Te Kanawa hails from Maori aristocracy and she was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982. Te Kanawa is a familiar figure in the leading opera houses of the world - Covent Garden, the Metropolitan, Paris Opera, Sydney Opera House, La Scala, and Munich. On the concert stage, she has sung with the world's major orchestral ensembles - Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony and the Boston Symphony.

(China Daily January 3, 2008)

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