Beijing Music Festival Pays Tribute to William Shakespeare

The Beijing Music Festival (BMF), having opened to record crowds this season, will kick off a series of events honoring the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The highlight of this homage will be a production of Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, directed by Robert Carsen in collaboration with the Festival d’Aix en Provence. Not only has this 1991 production never been seen outside of Europe--this will be the first-ever performance of Britten’s 20th century masterpiece in China.

A “Cross-Over Celebration”
The BMF is will commemorate William Shakespeare with a selection of musical works related to and inspired by his plays. Highlights include Mendelssohn’s Overture from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream (October 10th) performed by the West Australian Symphony, as well as Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Overture-Fantasy, Richard Strauss’ “Macbeth”, William Walton’s “As you Like It”, and Vaughn Williams’ “Serenade to Music”, performed by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and Guangzhou Youth Orchestra. But BMF director Tu Song highlights Britten’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the main event: “We have invited world famous drama director Robert Carsen…to make something new under an old title”. Carsen is noted in China for his highly successful 2010 staging of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” in Shanghai. The opera will be accompanied by the China Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Stuart Bedford.

The BMF has a tradition of celebrating anniversaries with musical tributes. In 2006 the festival paid homage to Mozart and Shostakovich for their 250th and 100th birthday’s respectively. Other anniversaries have included Wagner, Verdi, Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Chopin.  

About the Beijing Music Festival
Held over 4 weeks every October, BMF is the most important cultural event in China. The Festival and its Founder and Artistic Director, Maestro Long Yu, pioneer China’s unique musical voice. The festival has presented numerous historical performances such as the China premiere of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (2002), the Asian premiere of Alban Berg's opera, “Lulu” (2002); Guo Wenjing's operas, “Ye Yan” (2003) and “Wolf Club Village” (2003); and the China premiere of Richard Wagner's complete Ring Cycle (2005). BMF’s co-commission with Opera Boston, “Madame White Snake,” was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.