Opera, ballet, music and much more are coming to the stage of the Thailand Cultural Centre as Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music turns 20
THAILAND’S LONGEST running, independent performing arts festival – Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music – celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with six action-packed weeks of operas, ballets, musicals, symphony orchestras and magic.
Running from September 12 to October 18 at the Thailand Cultural Centre, the festival sets its celebration rolling with two legends – the world’s oldest opera house Teatro di San Carlo from Naples (Italy) and the world’s most highly rated orchestral conductor Maestro Zubin Mehta. Together they will open the Festival with one opera and two symphony concerts.
Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” will be staged on September 12 and 14 with conductor Zubin Mehta heading the orchestra. The opera company, whose history dates back to 1737, will bring tenors Saimir Pirgu and Carlo Bosi; mezzo sopranos Veronica Simeoni and Giuseppina Bridelli; sopranos Jessica Nuccio and Sandra Pastrana; and baritones Vito Priante, Fabio Previati, Roberto Accurso, and Gianfranco Montresor to portray the lead characters in this passionate rendering of a favourite story.
Mehta will also lead the San Carlo Symphony Orchestra in two concerts. Scheduled for September 13 is “An Evening with Beethoven” (“Leonore Overture No 3” and “Symphony No 9” with chorus and singers), while September 15 is reserved for Tchaikovsky “Symphony No 4” and “Symphony No 6”. These performances also celebrate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and Thailand.
There’s more in store for aficionados of western classical music when the Korean Symphony Orchestra takes the stage on September 24 followed a week later on October 1 by the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra.
Korean Symphony Orchestra
Chi-Yong Chung, one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation, will lead the Korean Symphony Orchestra and acclaimed piano soloist Jiyeong Mun in exploring Bedrich Smetana’s “Ma Vlast” (“The Moldau; My Fatherland”), Grieg’s “Piano Concerto” and Brahms’ “Symphony No 1”. Chung is highly regarded for his vivid interpretations, deep musical insights, strong ensemble leadership, and virtuoso baton technique. The symphony concert is another celebration, this time of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Thailand.
The Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra with its 120 musicians and violin soloist Ning Feng will present Jiping Zhao’s “Violin Concerto No 1” and Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No 5”.
Ballet fans have plenty to look forward to as well with three companies –Singapore Dance Theatre, Moscow State Classical Ballet and Karlsruhe Ballet from Germany – staging performances at the festival.
On September 26, Singapore Dance Theatre, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, will perform “Classical Weddings”, a compelling selection of wedding scenes from three ballets – “Coppelia”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Don Quixote”.
Natalia Kasatkina’s and Vladimir Vasilyov’s Moscow State Classical Ballet has three dramatic ballets performances in store: one-act ballets “The Firebird” and “Rite of Spring” on October 5, the two-act “Nutcracker” on October 6 and the two-act “Legend of Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling” on October 7.
Moscow State Classical Ballet
“The Firebird”, Igor Stravinsky’s first classic composition, is regarded as a masterpiece of musical narration and deals with love, magic and danger. It tells the story of a magical bird who comes to the rescue of a prince and his princess narrated to surging music. The second half of the evening is devoted to the pagan tale of human sacrifice “Rite of Spring”.
“The Nutcracker” is a favourite with all age groups and brings together the dreams and imaginative powers of childhood in a spectacle of virtuosic dance, inspired comedy and unbridled visual extravagance.
The next offering is the two-act “Legend of Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling”, a magical retelling of the old fairy tale, which will also appeal to the entire family. Adding to its charm are the 20 children in the cast.
The Karlsruhe Ballet will stage two performances, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on October 14 and “Gala Performance” on October 15. Choreographed by Youri Vamos, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a magnificent work with stunning sets and decorations. The star-studded “Gala Performance” meanwhile promises an unforgettable evening with the best soloists of the company and features 10 extracts from various classical ballets in its repertoire.
More music can be found in “Stunning Virtuosity” by the Ju Percussion Group from Taipei on September 16, the “Michael Jackson Tribute Concert” on October 8, and “Born To Dance” by Spain’s Los Vivancos on October 18.
The Ju Percussion Group is all about virtuoso drumming and powerful, passionate percussion as the group weaves rhythms and patterns on large drums, gongs, marimbas and all kinds of percussion instruments.
Michael Jackson Tribute Concert
Fans of the King of Pop will not want to miss out on this “Michael Jackson Tribute Concert” that marks the 60th birthday of the late t entertainer. This elaborate stage production brings the Michael Jackson magic alive with massive LED screens, pyrotechnics, versatile singers backed by a live band and high-octane dancers. The set list includes tracks from solo albums like “Thriller”, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” as well as his early chart-toppers with the Jackson 5.
Also being staged at the festival are “Break the Tango” with dancers and musicians from Argentina and Switzerland on September 22, and “Taj Express, a Bollywood Musical” on September 28.
Break the Tango
The explosive choreography features tango world champions German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi along with Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre plus breakdancers Henry “Bboy Prince Henry” Henry Monsanto, Jonathan “Bboy Jonathan” Anzalone, Gil Adan “Bboy Hill” Hernandez Candelas and Kwangsuk “Bboy Issue” Park. Accompanying them is a live four-man band and singer playing electrotango hits by Otros Aires and artists such as Adele, Christina Aguilera, Radiohead, Pitbull and Beyonce.
And what are music and dance without an element of Bollywood? To complete the quotient, the festival is presenting “Taj Express, a Bollywood Musical” on September 28. This brand new production, which features several hits by Oscar winner AR Rahman, blends explosive dance with music, spectacular lighting, and elaborate costumes.
Singapore Dance Theatre
For an even more magical evening, make an appointment with The Magnificent Seven, the International Magicians Society’s top seven magicians, who perform shows on September 19 and 20. The line up features illusionists Peter Gossamer from the US, Raul Alegria of Spain, Ukranian pair Double Fantasy comprising Vitaliy and Helena Gorbachevsk, Vlad Kryvonogov from Poland, German magicians Sos and Victoria, Rocco Silano also from the US, and Canadian Ariann Black (Canada).
The curtain falls on this 20th anniversary celebration on October 18 with an electrifying flamenco performance “Born To Dance” by the seven brothers who make up Los Vivancos. The show offers tap-dance, humour, martial arts, musical virtuosity and aerial-performances that converge with flamenco, symphonic, metal scores and live musical interpretations.
This line up is made possible with the support of Crown Property Bureau, Bangkok Bank (PCL), Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (PCL), BMW Thailand, B Grimm Group, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, Ministry of Culture, Nation Group, Major Cineplex, PTT (PCL), Singha Corporation, Thai Union Group, Thai Airways International and Tourism Authority of Thailand
BOOK EARLY TO ENJOY
Tickets are now on sale at Thai Ticket Major counters, online at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com, and by calling the hotline at (02) 262 3191.
For more information, visit www.BangkokFestivals.com.