Arts fest announces 2024 extravaganzas

The China Shanghai International Arts Festival recently announced its plans for this year, including multiple shows by Germany's Berliner Philharmoniker and the Beijing People's Art Theater.

It also named 10 winning

productions of the 2023 CSIAF Impact Index Awards and announced that this year's 23rd installment of the festival will take place from Oct 18 to Nov 17.

Internationally acclaimed companies, such as Austria's Wiener Philharmoniker, the London Symphony Orchestra, Germany's Munchner Philharmoniker, Russia's Bolshoi Theatre and Mariinsky Ballet, and Ballets de Monte-Carlo "have all received our invitation and are expected to perform in Shanghai in the autumn", says CSIAF Center president Li Ming.

"Aside from the main festival that takes place every year in the autumn, we have been actively exploring new possibilities to further enrich the artistic life in Shanghai throughout the whole year," says the center's deputy president Yang Jialu.

For example, the Berliner Philharmoniker will arrive in Shanghai in June, she says. It will present four symphony concerts at Shanghai Grand Theatre, led by its chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and pianist Yuja Wang. The company will have an exclusive residential program in Shanghai, which also consists of a series of chamber music performances and educational events. Tickets will be available by the end of February, Yang says.

One of the most esteemed theater companies in China, the Beijing People's Art Theatre, will present five productions during the upcoming festival, including its celebrated repertoire, The Tea House.

"Last year, we presented Old Fashioned Comedy at the festival. And the vivid performances by our leading artists, Li Youbin and Shi Lanya, won praise from audiences in Shanghai," says the company's president, Qin Xinchun.

"The play by Russian author Aleksei Arbuzov premiered at our experimental theater in 2019, and the Shanghai tour marked its first show outside of Beijing."

Since its founding in 1952, the Beijing People's Art Theatre has made landmark tours in Shanghai in 1961,1988, 2012 and 2014, she says.

Next year, the company will undertake its fifth large-scale tour in Shanghai, showing five productions while hosting colorful educational events and comprehensive collaborations with colleagues in the city.

And the festival will host a special campaign during the Edinburgh Festival, focusing on the promotion of Chinese art and showcasing the Shanghai Culture Week during the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

The Shanghai event will also kick off new comprehensive projects with the International Society for the Performing Arts this year to build a new international performance-trading platform.

Moreover, it also announced 10 Impact Index Prize-winning productions selected from the 72 shows featured at last year's main festival, including Der Ring des Nibelungen by the Mariinsky Theatre, the Old Fashioned Comedy by the Beijing People's Art Theatre and Brecht's Ghosts by the Berliner Ensemble.

The last production features more than 100 puppets that director Suse Wachter designed to portray such figures as Franz Kafka, Luciano Pavarotti and Margaret Thatcher.

The performances at Theatre Young in Shanghai during the 22nd arts festival won critical acclaim. This year, the festival will promote the performance of the Berliner Ensemble in Shanghai for a second round show and help facilitate its tour to more Chinese cities, says Li.