The 52nd Hong Kong Arts Festival will present more than 150 performances across 45 programmes.

There will be over 350 plus outreach and education events. To mark the opening and finale of the Festival, two award-winning performances, Bayerische Staatsoper’s “Ariadne auf Naxos” and Shanghai Ballet’s “A Sigh of Love”, will be presented.

FESTIVAL OPENING

The award-winning Bavarian State Opera returns for the spectacular opening of the 2024 HKAF, with the Hong Kong premiere of Ariadne auf Naxos, a high-octane and provocative mash-up of comedy and high art. Richard Strauss crafted this groundbreaking opera-within-an-opera about fidelity to love and art as a crossover masterpiece, allowing audiences to revel in two contrasting spectacles at once.

FESTIVAL FINALE

The Festival Finale this year, Shanghai Ballet’s A Sigh of Love, is an award-winning original modern ballet by a Sino-French creative team. A melancholic tale of love, passion, longing and regret, it pays homage to the uniquely refined aesthetic of Old Shanghai with nostalgia and emotional nuance.

MUSIC

There’s a whole world of music to explore at the 52nd HKAF, including groundbreaking orchestras, world music icons, family-friendly concerts, charming a capella performances and an inspiring musical.

• Five-time Grammy award winner Angélique Kidjo has brought the soul of Africa to the world throughout a brilliant career spanning more than 40 years. She was recently awarded the Polar Music Prize for her exceptional musical contributions and achievements. Kidjo’s Mother Nature tour is now coming to Hong Kong, promising an evening of joyous musicality and the sublime sounds of the African diaspora.

• The world of heavy metal collides with classical music in brilliant fashion in Bright & Black, performed by the unconventional and exciting Baltic Sea Philharmonic and its groundbreaking conductor, Kristjan Järvi. Don’t miss this chance to experience the orchestra that embodies all that is innovative and progressive about the Nordic region.

• A fantastic reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s beloved The Nutcracker that completely reinvents the classical music concert experience, with innovative founder-conductor Kristjan Järvi and the mind-blowing Baltic Sea Philharmonic taking us on a magical voyage of musical discovery. A visit to the concert hall has never been so much fun!

• Enjoy an evening of exceptional chamber works played by elite members of the Bavarian State Orchestra, the 500-year-old institution which was voted “Orchestra of the Year” for the eighth time running by Opernwelt magazine in 2022. Impressive soloists in their own right, the musicians unite to perform masterworks by Schubert and Nielsen.

• Van Gogh in Me is an immersive audio-visual journey that vastly expands the boundaries of the traditional concert experience by painting the future on the canvas of the past. The resonating purity of sounds and emotions from the Netherlands Chamber Choir combine with real-time technology to transform the brushstrokes of Van Gogh and Klimt into a cutting-edge concert experience.

• Get ready for a charming yet explosive evening of Russian symphonic and concerto music with the Hankyung arte Philharmonic, conductor Wilson Ng and renowned pianist Minsoo Sohn, highlighted by Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, considered one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the entire repertoire, and Tchaikovsky’s passionate Sixth Symphony.

• Children will love the energetic and fun-filled Family Concert which introduces the power of live orchestral music by Prokofiev and Doming Lam, to spark imaginations and shape young lives, presented by the dynamic Hankyung arte Philharmonic, conductor Wilson Ng and narrator Lai Ying.
• An unparalleled performance of L’estro armónico, the most influential collection of Baroque concertos by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by the multiple-award-winning Concerto Italiano and led by legendary conductor and keyboardist Rinaldo Alessandrini, the foremost interpreter of early Italian Baroque music.

• Enthusiastically fuelled by an infectious dynamism and a glorious performance tradition, the Festival Strings Lucerne, one of the most distinguished chamber orchestras in the world, and artistic director Daniel Dodds return to draw delightful inspiration from instruments fashioned by Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati. Joined by Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai, the ensemble will delight audiences with an unforgettable evening of music, including works by Mozart, Prokofiev and Vieuxtemps.

• Piano virtuoso, recording artist and 2006 Honens International Piano Competition winner Minsoo Sohn will set the stage ablaze in an all-Liszt recital, masterfully blending the nocturnal tenderness of the Consolations with the pyrotechnic fireworks of the Transcendental Études.

• The Tallis Scholars are without doubt one of the world’s leading early music vocal ensembles, with their recordings winning every accolade imaginable. Rejoice in the purity and clarity of Renaissance music as they celebrate their 50th anniversary with three glorious concerts: Birthday Programme, Music of the Sistine Chapel and Darkness to Light—the last of which will be performed in a church.

• A thrilling modern song cycle from multiple-award-winning Dutch singer-songwriter Wende, The Promise is a lyrical contemplation of identity, origins and what it means to be a woman. Premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre and toured around prestigious theatres across the Netherlands, The Promise features an intoxicating blend of pop, chanson and electro music with powerful lyrics by five new-generation female writers. Catch this exhilarating one-woman musical cabaret performed by the vocal powerhouse and an ensemble of talented instrumentalists.

• Garden of Repose—a Multimedia Choral Concert offers an immersive musical experience with local chamber choir NOĒMA, performing a juxtaposition of works by masters from the past and present, guiding audiences through a magical garden of light and sound.

• The Hong Kong Sinfonietta, together with award-winning composer Ng Cheuk-yin and Music Director Emeritus Yip Wing-sie, collaborates with Japanese drumming sensation Senri Kawaguchi to perform Fly LIVE!

• Music About China is a joint initiative between the Festival and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. This year, it presents a dialogue between the bianzhong and the organ, majestic instrumental voices from the East and the West.
MUSICAL

• A heartwarming musical production adapted from an immensely popular animated film, I Am What I Am the Musical brings the unique culture of Lingnan lion dance to the stage, seamlessly integrated into a story of resilience. This Cantonese musical tour-de-force created by a musical theatre dream team follows the journey of three “left-behind” teenagers finding success against all odds. The production is a collaboration of the HKAF and various units from Mainland China, including Guangzhou Opera House, Guangdong Song and Dance Ensemble and Guangzhou Song and Dance Theatre.

CHINESE OPERA

The 52nd HKAF showcases many of the most beloved forms of traditional Chinese opera, including kun and pingtan alongside Cantonese and Peking opera.
• The First Troupe of the China National Peking Opera Company makes its long-awaited return to the Festival after six years, appearing in three programmes featuring five richly diverse works including a full-length opera and excerpts from classics and masterpieces, led by two of China’s most famous and charismatic Peking opera stars, Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu.
• The epic 55-scene The Peony Pavilion (Complete Version) by the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe makes its Hong Kong debut, with veteran director Guo Xiaonan and young theatre talents joining forces to celebrate one of Chinese opera’s most treasured gems in all its glory.
• The National First-Class Shanghai Pingtan Troupe brings a set of four stylistically contrasting performances that showcase the various singing styles and rich history of the beloved traditional art form.
• The Oracle, a new Cantonese opera comedy extravaganza performed by pioneering troupe Canto Op, takes the audience on a whimsical journey through a dreamscape filled with seemingly impossible illusions and comedic chaos, revealing deep secrets behind ancient Chinese mythologies.

DANCE

From performances by some of the world’s leading ballet companies to a gypsy flamenco legend and a deconstruction of traditional Thai khon, dance lovers have much to discover at the Festival.

• The world-renowned Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company (La Scala Ballet) returns with Le Corsaire, a 19th-century classic that offers a feast of spectacular dancing and is packed with adventure and comedy in a sumptuous, exotic setting. Choreographed by the legendary company’s director Manuel Legris, the production features a nearly 100-strong cast, a delightful score with live orchestral accompaniment, and gorgeous sets and costumes, and promises to be a delight for dance lovers and family audiences alike.

• Hailed as “a flamenco superstar” (The Boston Globe) and the recognised heir to Spain’s most renowned gypsy flamenco dynasty, Farruquito makes his debut in Hong Kong with Farruquito—Flamenco, offering a not-to-be-missed opportunity to experience the electrifying power of this flamenco legend live on stage.

• In Jérôme Bel, French choreographer Jérôme Bel revisits the past 30 years of dance creation, and his 50 years of ups and downs in life. Multimedia artist Enoch Cheng and contemporary dance artist Dick Wong join hands to present the life of this master of choreography, featuring a special appearance by renowned dancer Mui Cheuk-yin.

• Pichet Klunchun, one of the most influential game-changers in the Thai dance scene today, leads his company in NO.60 by taking the 59 traditional poses of Thailand’s traditional khon dance as a starting point and gradually deconstructing them, leaving the audience with an open invitation to interpret what would be the 60th pose.

• The series Arab Arts Focus—Morocco, Palestine, Egypt offers a fascinating glimpse into contemporary dance and theatre in the Arab world, a rare opportunity to see the world through the eyes of Arabian artists. The three original and powerful works in this series, Untitled 14KM, Losing It and Anchoring, challenge stereotypes of the Arab identity, and reveal the true colours and diversity of contemporary dance and theatre creators from this region. Two brand new co-creations with Hong Kong dancers will add an exciting element of cross-cultural exchange.

THEATRE

Theatre lovers are in for a treat at the Festival with a broad range of performances taking to the stage, from reinvented Shakespearean classics to various contemporary creations that examine the very nature of theatre itself.

• The latest brainchild of the theatre magician, renowned Canadian playwright and theatre director Robert Lepage in collaboration with Ex Machina, Courville is an intimate, semi-autographical portrait of teenage angst and a visual spectacle that combines traditional Japanese puppetry with dazzling stage wizardry.

• Directed by visionary British theatre director Peter Brook (1925-2022) and Marie-Hélène Estienne, Tempest Project by Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord marks Brook’s final farewell to the stage and delivers his unique reading of the enigmatic magician Prospero in the ultimate work of Shakespeare, The Tempest. A great opportunity for audiences to pay tribute to the artistic genius of this theatre giant.

• Peking opera pioneer Wu Hsing-kuo and his Contemporary Legend Theatre join forces with Zhang Jun, “the prince of kunqu”, for a daring adaptation of history’s ultimate betrayal in Julius Caesar. The world-premiere run of this thrilling hybrid of opera, modern theatre and multimedia storytelling will break new ground in the interpretation of Shakespeare’s dramas.

• Featuring a highly sought-after powerhouse local cast, Crime and Punishment is a world-class production staged by a stellar creative team from Hong Kong and the UK including renowned English director Phillip Breen. Adapted from the literary masterpiece by Fyodor Dostoevsky with a contemporary flavour, it is a thrilling drama about self-judgement and self-redemption, and a theatrical experience that sets the heart ablaze.

• Miss Julie is a new adaptation of August Strindberg’s classic play that transplants the story to 1940s colonial Hong Kong. With a fresh backdrop and a biting perspective on the tensions arising from class, race and colonialism, this potent retelling follows the ruinous affair between a wealthy colonial woman on a downward spiral and a working-class local chauffeur on a social climb.

• Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel is a new solo work by the acclaimed theatre maker Tim Crouch. With an inventive blend of Shakespeare and scathingly funny stand-up, it explores the post-pandemic reality of live theatre and speaks the uncomfortable truth with pain, humour and love.

• Created by directors Wang Chong and Liu Xiaoyi, A Director Sitting Still 2.0 is a documentary theatre about Hu Bo, a young Chinese writer and filmmaker who died prematurely at the age of 29. Featuring Hu Bo’s collaborators, the celebrated film and television artist Zhang Yu and the cross-media artist Yu Yaoyao, it paints an ever-elusive portrait of the artist who died before his time.

• Acclaimed for its groundbreaking experimental theatre productions, the Ghent-based company Ontroerend Goed returns to the Festival with a pair of one-on-one immersive theatre experiences, The Smile Off Your Face and A Game of You, which join hands with the audience visually, physically and sensually to investigate the nature of trust and intimacy.
(This programme is only available for Counter Bookings from 1 December and not applicable for Advance Bookings)

• Playing Fields is The Chop’s latest touring work that looks at issues facing young people through a participatory theatre performance. Audience members, each wearing individual headphones, take part in a voice-guided, interactive participatory theatre experience involving heart-to-heart dialogue with teenagers.
(This programme is only available for Counter Bookings from 1 December and not applicable for Advance Bookings)

MULTIMEDIA

• In Miwa Matreyek’s World of Animation, the multimedia artist interacts with animation as a shadow silhouette in family-friendly performances that have previously been staged at prestigious events and venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. People of any age can enjoy this journey into dreamlike realms that explore the relationship between humans and nature. According to the Los Angeles Times, it is an experience “unlike anything you’ve seen before”!

HOW TO BUY TICKETS

The Programme and Booking Guide is now available at URBTIX outlets. Advance bookings for the 52nd HKAF are accepted from 10am on 13 October 2023 to 11:59pm on 21 November 2023. Patrons can submit their booking forms on the Festival website, www.hk.artsfestival.org, by fax or by post, and enjoy up to 15% discount on their bookings during the Advance Booking period.
Counter Bookings start on 1 December 2023. Patrons can book their tickets at URBTIX (online at www.urbtix.hk, by phone (852) 3166 1288 or at URBTIX outlets).

FREE PROGRAMMES

Apart from ticketed performances, the Hong Kong Arts Festival also offers to members of the community various free programmes, such as “HKartsFestival@TaiKwun 2024”, which is solely sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Taking place at Tai Kwun, the project’s Partner, across two weeks (24 February to 3 March 2024), programme details will be announced in December. Please visit taikwun.artsfestival.org for more information.

PLUS AND EDUCATION

In addition to performances, the Festival also offers a diverse series of PLUS, educational and outreach events:

PLUS PROGRAMMES—More Than Great Performances!
Through a diverse range of activities in performance venues and community locations, PLUS aims to enhance audience engagement with artists and their work, and includes talks, masterclasses, backstage tours, exhibitions, meet-the-artist sessions, film screenings, as well as an exhibition on Chinese opera.

YOUNG FRIENDS OF THE HONG KONG ARTS FESTIVAL Established in 1992, the Young Friends of the Hong Kong Arts Festival is an integrated arts education and audience development programme for local full-time secondary and tertiary students aged 25 or below. It is designed to nurture young students’ interest in the arts and has so far reached a remarkable 820,000 students. Members of Young Friends can enjoy two selected performances and rehearsals throughout the Festival. In addition, Young Friends organises various workshops, talks and backstage tours to enhance students’ appreciation of the performing arts.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The 52nd HKAF is most grateful to its many sponsors, the main ones being: The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, ICBC (Asia), China Minsheng Bank, China Resources (Holdings) Co., Ltd., HKR International, Industrial Bank Co. Ltd. Hong Kong Branch, Primasia Foundation Limited, Shun Hing Group, and Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund; Official Airline Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, Official Premium Car Partner Dah Chong Hong (Motor Leasing) Limited, Official Outdoor Media Partner POADmedia Limited, Official Video Technology Partner TFI Digital Media Limited, and Major Hotel Partner Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.

ABOUT THE HONG KONG ARTS FESTIVAL

Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major international arts festival committed to enriching the cultural life of the city. In February and March every year, the Festival presents leading local and international artists from all genres of the performing arts, giving equal importance to great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in theatre, music, chamber opera and contemporary dance by Hong Kong’s own creative talents and emerging artists, many of which have subsequently had successful runs in Hong Kong and overseas. Every year, the Festival also presents more than 250 “PLUS” and educational activities that offer diverse arts experiences to the community as well as tertiary, secondary and primary school students. In addition, through the “No Limits” project co-presented with The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Festival strives to create an inclusive space for people of different abilities to share the joy of the arts together.

For more information about the Hong Kong Arts Festival, please visit hk.artsfestival.org.