Three of the world's most respected sopranos, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathleen Battle and Angela Gheorghiu, are set to hit Beijing all at the same time.
Battle will join conductor Sage Ozawa, pianist Lang Lang and the National Symphony Orchestra of China to perform the New Year's Concert at the newly opened National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA) on December 31 and January 1. The next day, also at the NCPA, the 63-year-old Te Kanawa will give her highly anticipated mainland China debut.
The other New Year's Concert at the Poly Theater on January 1 and 2 will feature the Romanian soprano Gheorghiu with Chinese tenor Zhang Jianyi, baritone Liao Changyong, pianist Li Yundi, cellist Wang Jian and the China Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Yu Long.
Among the three sopranos set to perform in Beijing, Kathleen Battle is most familiar to Chinese audiences.
Among the three, the US soprano Battle is most familiar to Chinese audiences. She made her debut here at the Beijing Music Festival in 2000 and was invited to return in 2002. Two years later, Battle sang the title song Lovers from Zhang Yimou's martial arts blockbuster The House of Flying Daggers, which was composed by the Japanese musician Shigeru Umebayashi.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, 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.
New Zealander Te Kanawa hails from Maori aristocracy and she was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982. She gained legendary status almost overnight after her sensational debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971. From then, she moved rapidly into the front rank of international opera, and has become one of the world's most famous sopranos.
She has mastered a large repertoire, from the classics of opera to the art songs of European composers and contemporary popular music.
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.
The 42-year-old Gheorghiu is famed for her magnificent voice and dazzling stage presence.
Similar to Kanawa, Gheorghiu also made her international debut at Covent Garden with La Bohme. Since that 1992 performance, Gheorghiu has been in constant demand in opera houses and concert halls around the world. All of her recordings have received widespread critical acclaim and have been awarded many prizes, including Gramophone Awards. At the Classical Brit Award in 2001 she won Female Artist of the Year.
It was in Covent Garden that Gheorghiu first sang her much acclaimed La Traviata in 1994. At the New Year Concerts at Poly Theater, she will sing her trademark La Traviata and the operatic arias from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena.
(China Daily December 28, 2007)