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February 14, 2008

The Art of Style

You’ve studied the rich history of the House of Chanel and spent many years investing in its captivating and timeless creations. You can eloquently recount how Dior’s feminine and voluptuous designs revolutionized women’s dresses and you can spot a classic Hermes print from a mile away. But what can you say for your taste for Tchaikovsky or background in Brahms? It’s time to expand your creative and cultural horizons at the 36th Annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, which starts today and is set to take us on a performance whirlwind through mid-March. Get ready to enjoy a different style of art…

You know your Emporio Armani from your Valentino Roma, but do you know Teatro Regio di Parma? The famed Italian opera group will bring Giuseppe Verdi’s monumental opera Rigoletto to the stage with a troupe of 150 players, including an all-Italian orchestra, chorus, and cast of world-class soloists, in a performance, which is sumptuous, elegant and grand (Mar 7 – Mar 11, 7:30pm Grand Theatre, HK Cultural Centre).  On a lighter note, Oslo based Trio Mediæval’s celestial blend of purity, fluidity and immaculate harmony will stun you with its simple beauty and power. The synthesis of the three Norwegian soprano voices combined with the hauntingly beautiful medieval music is sure to leave you on high (Feb 26 – Feb 27, 8:00pm, St. John’s Cathedral).

With New York fashion week in full swing, the latest collections are being sashayed in synchronized symphony, and they’re not the only things working in harmony.  Filled with vigor, energy and wit, under the direction of Lorin Maazel, the New York Philharmonic has produced the most exciting and breathtaking performance of its recent history including flawless renditions of Elgar, Strauss, Barber, Dvorák, Mendelssohn and Brahms (Feb 15 – Feb 16, Feb 18, 8:00pm, Concert Hall, HK Cultural Centre). Our London counterparts are sounding pretty hot themselves.   Hailed as a magnetic, intense creative force, Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski will lead the London Philharmonic Orchestra in two evenings of great symphonies – Tchaikovsky’s Sixth and Prokofiev’s Fifth – a spectacular grand finale for the festival. (Mar 15 – Mar 16, 8:00pm, Concert Hall, HK Cultural Centre).

Your quick thinking and ability to improvise has probably inspired some of your all-time best outfits. But you ain’t got nothing on these kings of swing and earls of improv. Ornette Coleman, recipient the 2007 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, will be gracing the Hong Kong stage with his unusual provocative saxophone playing. Those lucky enough to get tickets will have the chance to witness one of the last living legends of jazz in action—vital, vibrant, edgy, and imaginative as ever (Feb 28 – Feb 29, 8:00pm, Concert Hall, HK Cultural Centre). When Eddie Palmieri, ‘The Sun of Latin Music’ is at his piano the keys burn, temperatures soar and audiences are whirled into a frenzied motion. Winner of nine Grammy Awards, Palmieri and his sextet are set to heat things up in Asia as he fuses Puerto Rican rhythms with free-flowing jazz piano (Mar 13 – Mar 14, 8:00pm, Concert Hall, HK Cultural Centre).

You like nothing more than playing dress-up with your new purchases and creating a dramatic entrance in show-stealing ensembles.  Diva?  No, not you!  Come and see the real performers in action. American Repertory Theatre’s Orpheus X is making its debut in Hong Kong with a stunning music-theatre production, backed by a four-piece band that strums jumpy rock songs, thundering instrumentals and melodious ballads, bringing rock music theatre to a new level (Feb 21 – Feb 23, 8:00pm, Lyric Theatre, HKAPA). If you think it’s rough putting together pieces for your spring wardrobe, Peter Brook, visionary director and octogenarian icon of theatre, had an even tougher job on his hands in creating Fragments, a seamless joining of five short pieces by theatrical giant Samuel Beckett (Feb 15 – Feb 18, 8:15pm, Feb 16, 3:00pm, Studio Theatre, HK Cultural Centre).  Double your pleasure with the Asian premiere of an award winning double-bill, National Theatre of Great Britain’s Chatroom + Citizenship. Written by celebrated playwrights, Edna Walsh and Mark Ravenhill, the plays address the compelling world of modern-day teenagers with sharply drawn characters, superb dialogue and a penetrating wit (Feb 13 – Feb 16, 8:00pm, Feb 16, 3:00pm, Lyric Theatre, HKAPA).

If you’ve skillfully mastered the art of dancing around the sales in your ballet flats, here’s your chance to learn a few new moves from the professionals. Celebrate famed choreographer John Cranko’s 80th birthday and outstanding contribution to dance with two of his most renowned and spectacular ballet productions – Onegin and Swan Lake – performed by the Stuttgart Ballet (Swan Lake, Feb 14 – Feb 16, 7:30pm / Onegin Feb 19 – Feb 21, 7:30pm, Grand Theatre, HK Cultural Centre). Fancy getting wet, wild and impassioned? Vollmond has created swelling waves across Europe and has come to stir our waters. Watch as dancers splash and swirl through torrents of water, in a visually and dramatically dazzling feast where dance and theatre merge (Feb 29 – Mar 1, Mar 3, 7:30pm, Mar 2, 3:00pm, Grand Theatre, HK Cultural Centre).  If that whetted your appetite and made you hungry for more, get ready to hitch up your skirt and put on your dancing boots with Hungarian Concerto: Hommage à Béla Bartók in a riot of swirling skirts and slapping thighs as 40 joyous dancers rejoice in traditional Hungarian folk dance (Mar 15 – Mar 16, 7:30pm, Grand Theatre, HK Cultural Centre).

It may not be Chanel but this style of art will certainly tantalizingly delight and inspire the imagination. Maybe not so unlike our beloved Chanel after all!

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