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Mediterranean Arts Festival opens

With performers in beautiful costumes and masks playing early Baroque music, Italian carnival music "The Italian Feast" opened the Mediterranean Arts Festival tonight (October 19) at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Recreating the vitality of 17th-century Italian carnivals, it was presented by Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble (Germany).

The Mediterranean Arts Festival, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, will run from tonight to November 18, featuring leading artists from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and North Africa, showcasing Spanish Flamenco, Portuguese fado, Italian commedia dell' arte, Venetian carnivals, Greek tragedy, Egyptian oriental dance, the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey, Byzantine secular music and North African Gnawa and Sufi music.

The Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Carrie Yau officiated at the opening ceremony of the festival before the performance.

"The Italian Feast", presented in Italian with English and Chinese surtitles, will also be staged tomorrow and Sunday (October 20 and 21) at 7.30pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre. Tickets priced between $150 and $580 are available.

Opening week special presentation includes a fado concert by Cristina Branco, Portugal's hottest new fado star. Her crispy, expressive alto resonates with anguish yet at the same time soothes. The concert will be staged tomorrow and Sunday at 8pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. Tickets priced between $120 and $380 are available.

Exotic flamenco and belly dancers also performed this afternoon at the Piazza and Foyer of Hong Kong Cultural Centre and attracted crowds. It will also be performed tomorrow (October 20) from 3.30pm to 6.30pm at the Piazza, and from 5.30pm to 7pm at the foyer of Hong Kong Cultural Centre. They are free programmes to add colour to the Mediterranean Arts Festival.

The festival will also feature:
* Commedia dell'arte masterpiece "Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters" by Piccolo Teatro di Milano featuring renowned actor Ferruccio Soleri (Italy)
* Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's "He Hui Returns"
* The National Theatre of Greece's authoritative interpretation of "Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound" (Greece)
* Byzantine secular music "Musical Heritage of the Mediterranean" by En Chordais Ensemble (Greece)
* Mystical Islamic heritage "The Whirling Dervishes: A Sacred Ritual" by Istanbul Music & Sema Group (Turkey)
* Leila Haddad's oriental dances "Zikrayat, Homage to Oum Khalsoum" and "In the Trail of the Ghawazee" (Egypt)
* Dhafer Youssef's sufi music "Divine Shadows" concert (Tunisia)
* Hassan Boussou's Gnawa music concert (Morocco)
* "Gala Flamenca Concert" featuring vocal Flamenco diva and prince (Spain)
* Ojos de Brujo (Eyes of the Wizard) (Spain)
* Closing Performance "Gala Flamenca Dance – Yesterday, Today and Always" (Spain)

Apart from performances, the festival also offers recital concerts, exhibitions, dance workshops, master classes, foyer performances and outdoor performances.

Tickets for the Mediterranean Arts Festival are now available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Booking discounts of up to 20% are available.

Programme brochures are now available at URBTIX outlets or at the website .

For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044. Telephone reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Internet bookings can be made at .

Ends/Friday, October 19, 2007
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