SEMELE Re-Imagined Semele comes to the Shanghai International Arts Festival 2019

Monday, October 21st, 2019

After it’s debut 10 years ago, this classic opera by Handel in re-imagined form is to be performed by Shanghai Symphony Orchestra as part of their 140th anniversary celebrations.

The KT Wong Foundation presents Handel’s Semele in a ground-breaking, reimagined production at the Shanghai International Arts Festival 2019

The KT Wong Foundation, a leading cultivator and producer of cultural collaboration and exchange between east and west, in partnership with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, presents Handel’s Semele in a ground-breaking, reimagined production for two performances on November 8th and 9th as part of the 20th Shanghai International Arts Festival 2019.  

The Shanghai performances of Handel’s iconic opera follow the world-renowned productions from 2009 designed by leading Chinese artist Zhang Huang which premiered at Theatre de la Monnaie Brussels, BAM in New York, and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto and as part of the Beijing Music Festival, all of which were received to universal critical praise.

 …70% is beautifulness, 15% is unrealistic beautifulness, and the rest is so beautiful, one cannot bare… (New York Times)

Love, death, revenge, and rebellion. Semele moves the Beijing audience  (The Daily Telegraph UK)

Jane Archibald is alone worth the price of a ticket. She is spectacular in the title role (Toronto Star)

The Canadian soprano Jane Archibald is a beguiling Semele, and brings a bright, technically agile and appealing voice to a demanding role. (New York Times)

Han Feng’s sumptuous fusion of Chinese theatre and European baroque costumes,… makes for jaw dropping moments (The Times UK)

This new re-imagined production will be led by preeminent Chinese conductor Maestro Long Yu with an international cast featuring Jane Archibald, Peter Rose, Christine Rice, Hugo Hymas, and Carlo Vistoli, supported by the chorus of English Voices and directed by Julia Burbach.

Performed by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra as part of their 140th anniversary celebrations in Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall, this will be the first time a staged opera will be produced in the hall and will form the centre piece of the 2019 Shanghai International Arts Festival. The much-anticipated performances have already sold out.

This large-scale project sits at the heart of the KT Wong Foundation whose mission is to foster mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world through collaborative cultural projects between East and West. The opera fuses these cultural influences to create an entirely fresh take on this age-old human story.

Lady Linda Wong Davies, Founder and Chair of KT Wong Foundation said “As artistic producer of the 2019 Semele Re-Imagined, my key focus was to create an event where the opera world would gather and celebrate the diverse talent that goes into making such a beautiful and specific art form. I have always believed in the benefit of bringing different cultures together through the arts. Semele embodies the ethos of the KT Wong Foundation fusing Chinese and western cultures to create an innovative and accessible work of art. I am delighted that Maestro Long Yu and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra are showcasing this important work to a new audience.” 

Maestro Long Yu, music Director and principal conductor of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra said: “I am honoured to be bringing Semele to the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. It will be a re-imagined homage to the original production and I am thrilled, along with the KT Wong Foundation to bring the opera to my home city.”

The KT Wong Foundation supports programmes in China, Africa, Europe and the US as well as cultural exchanges and internships for the gifted. The Foundation’s aim is an exploration of the traditional as a complement to contemporary culture; celebrating art forms of various periods within a modern context provides a new perspective that deepens appreciation.

Semele exemplifies the mission of the KT Wong Foundation, fusing Chinese and Western cultures to create an innovative work of art that is accessible to and relevant for a global audience. It sets a new standard in the fusion of contemporary art and classical music whilst representing a unique cross-fertilisation between Chinese and European cultures.