It's on for young and old
Spend the summer caught in a whirlwind of art festivals, plays and film. Vanessa Yung lists the season's must-sees
THE CAVALCADE OF art fairs, auctions and exhibition openings last month might have come and gone in a blink but the cultural buzz in the city will continue deep into summer, with two major performing arts festivals – one catering to children and the other for an older set.
The International Arts Carnival (IAC), organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, returns in July with 16 productions and more than 100 performances and screenings. The Diavolo Dance Theatre from Los Angeles will open the festival with Architecture in Motion (July 5-7), a gymnastics and acrobatics show that pits performers against giant mechanisms such as rocking galleons and rolling wheels.
Other highlights of this month-long cultural jamboree for children include Shadowland (July 26-28), a light and shadow show staged by Pilobolus Dance Theatre from the United States and Da Capo! Quasi Concert, inspired by commedia dell’arte (Italian for “comedy of art”), staged by The Konk Brothers from Italy and Norway.
Canto-pop singer Eman Lam Yee-man is set to appear in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta’s McDull: Sentimental Little Stories concert (July 20-21), which will follow an adorably clumsy piglet created by Alice Mak Ka-bik and Brian Tse Lap-man. It features classical music by Brahms, Dvorák, Elgar and Grieg. But before that, the Sinfonietta, under the baton of Ken Lam, will perform the Disney classic Fantasia (June 7-9).
Elmo will take centre stage in Sesame Street Live: Elmo’s Super Heroes (June 28- July 1) a touring musical that has been delighting families in America since 2010.
Kicking off on June 20, this year’s monthlong Chinese Opera Festival again promises to bring diverse genres – including the less common xiang opera from Hunan province and sixian, which is popular in areas such as Hebei and Shanxi – to the local stage.
The festival opens with Battle at Wancheng (June 20-22), a new production of the Cantonese historical opera. Veteran actor Law Kar-ying plays Zhang Xiu, a general who, with the help of the seductive Madam Zou (Chan Ho-kau), conspires to kill a warlord in the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao (Yau Sing-po).
Other groups not to be missed are the Shanghai Kungqu Opera Troupe (June 24-26) which will stage excerpts from The Story of the Lute and other works, and the Zhejiang Wu Opera Research Centre’s performance of The Legend of the White Snake.
Elsewhere, at the Sunbeam Theatre on June 14 and 15, Denver Chiu – one of the few male Cantonese performers still playing female roles – will star in Legend of Chang’e and a medley show featuring traditional works with a modern twist.
Inquiries: Chinese Opera Festival, cof.gov.hk, tel: 2268 7325; Sunbeam Theatre, tel: 2856 0161 or 2314 4228
The local dance scene is unusually busy this summer, with a number of productions that promise to entertain and provoke. The Hong Kong Ballet will restage The Merry Widow (June 14-16) by British choreographer Ronald Hynd. Adapted from Austro-Hungarian Franz Lehar’s operetta, the romantic comedy with an opulent set and costumes was premiered by the Australian Ballet in 1975. It was the HK Ballet’s former artistic director, John Meehan, who brought the production here six years ago and who originally danced the lead role of the dashing Count Danilo.
More serious in tone is the City Contemporary Dance Company’s Hedvig from The Wild Duck (June 28-29), choreographed by Christel Johannessen of Norwegian dance company Zero Visibility Corp. Inspired by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s drama The Wild Duck, the adaptation explores the philosophical distinction between the pursuit of truth and the toleration of white lies.
E-Side Dance Company’s popular Contemporary Dance Showcase Asian- Male series returns for the fourth time (July 5-6), bringing together six choreographers from neighbouring countries including Korea and Vietnam.
From further afield, Switzerland’s Geneva Ballet presents Romeo and Juliet (July 19-21) choreographed by Joëlle Bouvier and based on Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s three orchestral suites. To highlight the universality and timelessness of the tale, it is not set in any particular period.
The Great Music series organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department continues with a guitar recital by Spanish classical and flamenco guitarist Pepe Romero (June 16). The programme, Songs My Father Taught Me, will include 17thcentury composer Gaspar Sanz’s Ten Spanish Dances and Fernando Sor’s variation on a theme from The Magic Flute of Mozart.
Le French May will hold its finale concert featuring Belgian violinist Yossif Ivanov. A winner of the Montreal International Musical Competition, he will be playing Ravel’s Tzigane and Chausson’s Poème under the baton of the Sinfonietta’s music director and conductor Yip Wing-sie.
Combining comics and music is the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s Comics Concert (June 7-8), which is part of the animation Ani-Com Summer 2013. Local illustrator Siuhak’s iconic chubby panda will “dance” to upbeat tunes by Concerts de dessins.
Siuhak can’t help but compare the local event to the Angoulême International Comics Festival he attended in January, where he “saw other artists’ works, which were done with techniques that I have never tried before”.
“I hope there will be more local elements in the Hong Kong performance and that more youngsters will see it so more people could be inspired and experience the magic of drawing,” he says.
For a print show with a difference, head to Above Second gallery for “The Mysterious Human Toad & Other Oddities” exhibit (June 7-July 6), co-organised by Cannonball Press. The quirky works include original woodblock prints of bearded ladies, demon wrestlers and other circus oddities.
Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston, who established Cannonball in order to publish and market the works of emerging artists, will also be showing off some of their letterpress prints, carved banners and installations.
Many local galleries will also stage group shows this summer.