The Beijing Music Festival, which opened with a Russian
conductor, orchestra and symphony earlier this month, will close
its curtain on Sunday night with one of the most well-known Italian
Gran Teatro La Fenice from Venice will perform Giuseppe Verdi's
La Traviata, one of the world's most famous operas, at the
Poly Theatre. A preview performance will be staged tonight at the
Yu Long, artistic director of the Beijing Music Festival, chose
the production to close the festival for two main reasons.
Firstly, La Traviata is arguably the most familiar and
popular opera among Chinese. The earliest performances in China
date back to the 1920s in Shanghai and Harbin. For many Chinese
opera fans, it was La Traviata that opened the door to the
Western opera. After China's Central Opera House was founded in
1953, "La Traviata" was the first production the opera house
produced. It was also the first opera restaged after the "cultural
"La Traviata has developed many opera singers and
audiences in the second half of last century in China," said Yu.
"It is also the first opera I conducted at the Central Opera House
after I finished studies in Germany and returned Beijing."
La Fenice is known for being the cradle of many great operas. It
was the site of the infamous fiasco at the premiere of La
Traviata on March 6, 1853.
Based on La Dame aux Camlias by Alexandre Dumas, La
traviata was a milestone in opera history. However, its
premiere on March 6, 1853 at Teatro La Fenice was an utter failure
because the contemporary setting, poor casting and scandalous
subject were not to the audience's liking.
When the revised La Traviata was performed in 1854, it
was an overwhelming success and quickly conquered opera houses
around the world.
Today, La Traviata is arguably Verdi's most successful
and universally adored opera owing its popularity to the tremendous
compassion evoked by the believable characters and the exquisite
melodies of the music.
In November 2004, Gran Teatro La Fenice chose the great work to
reopen its doors to opera, after the famous theatre finally rose
from the ashes of the fire of January 30, 1996, like the Phoenix
for which the theatre is named. In this way, Verdi has come back in
triumph in one of the most legendary halls of the operatic
And the production to close Beijing Music Festival will be
staged in 2006/07 season at La Fenice, according to Giampaolo
Vianello, board member and the Superintendent of Fenice Theatre
Foundation since 2001.
"La Traviata is special to La Fenice and we would like
to bring it to Beijing," said Vianello. "I don't know the exact
number of how many versions we have produced but this production is
very different from the previous in settings, costumes and very
close to Verdi's original idea of a contemporary setting when it
debut in 1853," Vianello told China Daily. He decided to
return to Beijing after the successful concert by the Orchestra of
La Fenice at the Sixth Beijing Music Festival in 2003. "We had
happy experiences at Yu's Beijing Music Festival, which has been as
good as many music festivals in Europe. We had also invited his
China Philharmonic Orchestra to Venice. I wish for more
collaboration with him in the near future," he added.
Soprano Luz del Alba plays Violetta, tenor Dario Schmunck as
Alfredo, who performed the part when La Fenice reopened in November
2004, and baritone Vladimir Stoyanov as Alfredo's father. This is
also the cast that will perform at La Fenice next year.
(China Daily October 27, 2006)