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September
World premiere of epic opera 'Yao Ji' Oct 16-19 at HK Cultural Centre

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The original epic opera "Legend of Yao Ji", presented in a western operatic style, will stage its world premiere at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre from October 16 to 19, opening the "Legends of China" Festival.

The production, presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, brings together celebrated artists from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"Legend of Yao Ji" is a spellbinding story of the ancient Chinese hero Da Yu and his mythical lover Yao Ji, where the folk tale of Da Yu's conquest of the Great Flood is interwoven with the legend of the Goddess Peak. Adding to the dramatic intensity of this romantic story of the celestial world is the ambition of the Dragon King of the ocean to unify the universe.

Chen Ning-chi, famed composer of Hong Kong, uses his richly ethnic music style, blending traditional and modern musical techniques, to depict the passionate love between an extraordinary couple. The libretto and lyrics are a collaboration between renowned verse dramatists Rupert Chan of Hong Kong and Pu Yue of Taiwan.

Barbara Fei, the advisor to the production, began her music studies on the piano with Professor Ding Shande. In 1950, she came to Hong Kong for vocal lessons with Professor Chao Mei-pa, and she went to France to refine her art in 1956. Since her return to Hong Kong in 1960, Fei has been invited to perform in New Zealand, the United States and other Asian cities. Fei is well-known for her contributions to many music activities. In 1964, she founded the Allegro Singers.

Producer/director Barbara Wang graduated from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna in 1972. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Opera Direction from the same university in 1985 and 1990 respectively. She has participated in over 25 opera productions in Vienna, Zurich and other European opera stages. Her Chinese heritage and European training influenced her to begin blending east with west in a number of operas, including the critically acclaimed The Savage Land(1993), The Magic Flute(1998) and Xi Shi, which premiered in Taipei in 2001.

Composer Chen Ning-chi graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music. A prolific and versatile creator of both Western and Chinese music, he won the Most Performed Original Local Serious Work Award of the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong in 1994 for his "Reminiscence at Chi Bi".

Librettist/lyricist Rupert Chan, who is also a writer and playwright, has translated over 30 operas from French, Italian and English into Cantonese. In 1990, he received the Playwright of the Year Award from the Hong Kong Artists' Guild. He and composer Chan Wing-wah won the Most Performed Original Local Serious Work Award for "Nine Regions Singing As One", written for the 1997 Hong Kong Reunification.

The other librettist/lyricist is Pu Yue. An award-winning writer, she has produced lyrics for many famous Chinese composers and was the librettist for the opera "Xi Shi", by Barbara Wang, who is the producer/director of "Yao Ji".

The original score will be performed by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta under the baton of Chiu Chun-chiang. Vocalists include Lu Chiung-jung (soprano) as Yao Ji, Mariolin Xu (tenor) as Da Yu, Yuan Chenye (baritone) as the Dragon King, Liu Yueming (bass) as the Emperor of Heaven, and Liu Haitao (mezzo-soprano) as Queen Mother of the West.

Also taking part are the chorus and dancers from the China Opera and Dance Drama Theatre.

From Germany, Peter Sykora and Friedewalt Degen are in charge of set and costumes and lighting respectively.

The orchestra for the production, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, was founded in 1990 by a group of young musicians and now has a roster of 58 players. Over the years, the orchestra has collaborated with an illustrious array of artists and groups and taken part in many major festivals.

The China Opera and Dance Drama Theatre is the state theatre for performances of operas and dance dramas, consisting of two performing troupes and two orchestras. It has staged approximately 100 operas and dance dramas since its establishment in 1950, when it was called the Beijing People's Art Theatre.

"Legend of Yao Ji" will be staged at 7:30pm from October 16 to 19 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre. The programme is presented in Putonghua with Chinese and English surtitles. Tickets priced at $450, $360, $240 and $120 are available at all URBTIX outlets.

Half-price tickets are offered to senior citizens, full-time students, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients. For group bookings and packages, discounts of up to 20% apply.

The world premiere of "Legend of Yao Ji" is sponsored by: The Hong Kong Austrian Association Limited, Outblaze Limited, Typhoon Games (Hong Kong) Ltd, Mr & Mrs Yat Siu, and Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

Telephone reservations can be made on 2734 9009. For credit card telephone bookings, call 2111 5999. Internet bookings can be made at www.urbtix.gov.hk

Programme details can be found in the brochures obtainable at URBTIX outlets or at www.legendsofchina.gov.hk

For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044.

End/Wednesday, September 17, 2003

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