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Fourteenth Macao Arts Festival - 1st to 28 March 2003

Travel News Asia 22 January 2003

The 14th Macao Arts Festival sponsored by the Cultural Institute of Macao S.A.R Government and co-sponsored by the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau will be held from 1st to 28th March 2003.

This years festival will run for seven days longer than previously, with a total of 36 performances. The 14 programmes from China, Hong Kong, Macao and abroad, combined with an exciting week of film and video cycles and two major art exhibitions will provide something to suit every taste across a huge range of artistic genres: ballet, Kun opera, acrobatics, multimedia shows, music, puppetry, contemporary drama, Cantonese opera, comedy and traditional Gypsy dancing. Festival venues extend across the city from Dr. Sun Yat Sen Municipal Park in the northern section of the city to Senado Square in central Macao, from the Cultural Centre to the Ruins of St. Pauls.

In a move to take culture out onto the streets, this years Festival programme includes an Arts and Crafts Fair scheduled for the first weekend in March (1st and 2nd March). Two points in the city Senado Square and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Municipal Parkwill be livened up from 10 am to 10 pm with demonstrations of traditional Chinese handicrafts, paper-cutting, leaf-carving, clay modelling  and many other kinds of crafts, plus a host of outside performances from abroad. Artists include folk dancing from Mexico and Portugal, clowns from Canada and magic fire dances from the United States. There will be displays of different arts typical of Macao, as well as plays, singing and dancing, comic  dialogues and highlights from Cantonese operas. The Arts and Crafts Fair is guaranteed to delight both residents and tourists, giving them an opportunity to meet artists and performers first hand.

The 2003 Macao Arts Festival is dedicated to expanding Chinese culture, showcasing top quality art and promoting Macaos artistic development.

Kun opera is the oldest form of Chinese folk opera, and has been honoured by  UNESCO as a masterpiece of world oral and non-material heritage. The highly refined style of presentation in Kun opera distinguishes it from the more familiar genres of Beijing and Cantonese opera, but it is unusual to have an opportunity to see it in Macao. Special Festival guests, the Shanghai Kun Opera Company will perform two well-known operas: Banzhao (14th March) is  pure Kun opera while The Peach Blossom Fan (16th March) combines both Beijing and Kun styles, with the leading roles performed by some of Chinas most outstanding traditional opera stars.

Macaos Arts Festival offers the special attraction of subtitles in English and Portuguese to make these  exquisite art forms more accessible to non-Chinese speaking communities. The Shanghai Kun Opera Company will also perform highlights from Kun operas in front of the Ruins of St. Pauls (15th & 16th March), in a tradition of free open air concerts that always draw huge crowds.

The Macao Arts Festival always offers a variety of foreign shows to provide contrasting artistic approaches and styles. This year, 4DArt from Canada will stage Amina (19th & 20th March) a multimedia show inspired by the work of renowned British zoologist and anthropologist Desmond Morris. This  ambitious work sets out to trace humankinds condition weaving a fascinating world in which reality encounters fantasy, and technology merges with traditional arts in a multidisciplinary interaction of opera, dance, dialogue and  music. Lili (11th & 12th March) also takes audiences on a journey into the inner  world of a nine-year-old girl, using acrobatics and a range of subtle body language to reflect the contrast between her childish spirit and the onset of puberty in a thought-provoking performance that will delight family audiences.

For Cantonese opera fans, the Guangzhou Cantonese Opera Company will perform a brand new work entitled Flowers in the Moonlight (5th March). This masterpiece marks a move away from the classic opera tradition, introducing an orchestra and dancers. It provides a refreshing change for faithful opera-goers, while attracting many new audiences. This major production with lavish sets and costumes won the Best Opera Award in Guangdongs Arts Festival last December. Two traditional Chinese farces, Two Officials from Suzhou (3rd March) and Who is the Father? (4th March) will be staged outdoors at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Municipal Park by the Zhejiang Traditional Opera and Acrobatics Troupe.

In the beautiful square outside Cultural Centre, there will be two performances with different styles. Maktoub (8th March) evokes the wandering destiny of the Rom people, brought to Macao by authentic Gypsy group Ciganos DOuro. 

Portuguese singer Marta Plantier will perform at the same venue (18th March), bringing a taste of the latest pop sensation from Europe to Macao.

Last years Macao Arts Festival closed to the resounding success of the ballet adaptation of Raise the Red Lantern. This year we are lucky to have the National Ballet of China back with a spectacular new production of Coppelia for the Closing Ceremony. Choreographed by Swedish dancer and choreographer Par Isberg, the light-hearted ballet derived from Hoffmann's tale and scored by Leo Delibes, is sprinkled with fantasy and mysticism. The  MAF production includes flamingos, beetles and caterpillars with fabulous costumes and prominent principal dancers from Chinas top ballet company.

Childrens entertainment continues with a production of Hans Christian Andersons tale The Little Matchgirl performed by the Shanghai Puppet Troupe. A Star-Studded Night will present well-known songs from China and  abroad performed by winners of the China National Television Young Singers Competition accompanied by the Macao Orchestra conducted by Yang Yang. The Macao Chinese Orchestra conducted by Peng Jiahui will bring the sounds of ancient China to Macao in a concert entitled Landscapes from Ancient China featuring guzhen soloist Zhao Jiazhen and Huang Anyuan  performing a concerto for gaohu.

Macaos native patois is the language used in a production called Your Mums Here, written and directed by Miguel de Senna Fernandes. Like past productions from the Doci Papiaam di Macau Drama Group, this years offering is sure to catch the humour and habits of Macaos local community, in  a unique language, with subtitles to let those who do not speak patois in on the jokes. Drama is the genre from another eye-catching performance: Tang  Pek Wan visits the Lous Home at Night, a specially commissioned work by Hong Kong play writers Gao Zhisen, Du Guowei and Zheng Chuanjun.

Produced by the Spring Drama Company of Hong Kong, audiences will have an unprecedented opportunity to attend a performance in a fully restored traditional house combining Chinese and Western architectural styles.

Beauty and Meaning - International Video Art Cycle will be held from 14th to 16th March at the Macao Museum Auditorium. Digital video works selected by  world-renowned artist Hanspeter Amman will demonstrate the beauty and innovation resulting from combinations of modern technology and art. From 17th to 22nd March six Hong Kong films shot in Macao in the 1950s and 60s will be screened at the Macao Museum of Art Auditorium. The "Memories of the Past film cycle will offer an insight onto the lives of Macao people in the past.

Chinese Treasures" an Exhibition of Monuments and Sites in China Bidding for UNESCO World Heritage Listing will open at the Macau Tower Conference and Entertainment Centre on 28th March. 270 pieces of works by 183 local artists will be displayed, the fruit of a project initiated by the Cultural  Institute of the Macao SAR Government in 2002 to create stronger links and understanding between eight sites in China bidding for the coveted UNESCO  listing. Works could be submitted in a wide variety of media, including design, photography, painting, calligraphy, posters, watercolour and video. Chinese Treasures will convey the cultural history and beautiful scenery of the eight sites, namely Macaos Historic Monuments, Kaiping City (Blockhouse), Fujian  Province (Earth House), Henan Province (Yin Ruins), Beijing (Ming Tombs), Nanjing (Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum), Yunnan Province (Terraced Fields) and Yunnan Province (Three Rivers).

Part of ICs work to stimulate interest in the Arts involves organising workshops and lectures around Arts Festival events. Members of the public will be given access to some rehearsals, providing first-hand experience of how much work goes on in the lead-up to a public performance.

Tickets for the 14th Macao Arts Festival will go on sale at 10 am on 26th January (Sunday) at all Kong Seng ticketing outlets. Every ticket bought before the Chinese New Year will come with a bonus laisi gift. A variety of discount schemes (offering up to a maximum of 50% off the ticket price) are available to the public in a move to attract a broad audience. Full details are given in the publicity material and at ticketing outlets.

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