Cover Burmese Days (Theatre Ronin)

With pandemic restrictions loosening, get your cultural fix at these live dance productions, theatre shows and concerts, which are all returning to the stage

Miss the perfect date night at a fairytale-themed ballet show? Or the impeccable acoustics of a live music show? Or dressing up for a matinée theatre performance? Breathe a sigh of relief as productions come back to Hong Kong, starting from this month. We’ve rounded up 12 tickets not to be missed, ranging from classical and jazz productions to an Orwell adaptation and a Canto-pop concert in a new West Kowloon park.

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1. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Hong Kong’s largest orchestra returns to the live stage with a brand-new programme, featuring international talent and stunning visuals taken from the BBC Blue Planet television series.

Finnish conductor Taavi Oramo will make his HKPhil debut at Sounds of the Sea (May 6 and 7), a concert that brings together works by composers who were inspired by ocean voyages, including Finland’s Jean Sibelius, Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu, and John Williams, the US maestro responsible for the score of Star Wars and Indiana Jones among countless other blockbusters. The concert culminates with Claude Debussy’s masterpiece, La mer, which revolutionised orchestral music in early 20th-century France with shifting moods and textures that imitate the sound of waves.

Hong Kong pianist Aristo Sham, who won the Casagrande International Piano Competition in 2019, will perform at Magnificent Mendelssohn on May 13 and 14, also conducted by Oramo.

For a full visual and audio experience, opt for the Hong Kong premiere of BBC Blue Planet II Live in Concert on May 20 and 22, when the HKPhil performs the score by Hans Zimmer, David Fleming and Jacob Shea during the screening of the well-known documentary.

From May 6 to 22. The Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

2. The Hong Kong Ballet

Hong Kong’s major ballet company puts on a new rendition of the fairytale favourite Cinderella. This full-length production is an extension of the virtual children’s production in February 2021, whose original concept was by dance artist Yuri Ng and dancer and singer Rick Lau. This July version features new choreography by Septime Webre, the company’s artistic director, who was named winner of the outstanding choreography award at this year’s Hong Kong Dance Awards. The Hong Kong Ballet also won three other awards, including outstanding performance by male dancer, outstanding set and costume design, and outstanding alternative space production, for their latest collaboration with M+ Live Art.

From July 8 to 10. The Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

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3. Musicus Society

Hong Kong cellist Trey Lee founded the Musicus Society in 2010 as a charity organisation to promote cross‐cultural collaboration by global musicians. This May, it is organising a series of five concerts, both ticketed and free, under the Jockey Club Musicus Heritage Alive programme at Tai Kwun. The programme highlights the world’s most famous musical families in history: siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, father and son Wolfgang Amadeus and Franz Xaver Mozart, husband and wife Robert and Clara Schumann, and in‐laws Antonín Dvořák and Josef Suk.

A highlight of the programme is the premiere of Tomorrow by the society’s “Call for Scores” initiative winner Luk Wai‐chun. Each year, the Musicus Society selects two Hong Kong students or recent graduates to compose music inspired by a heritage building. Luk is the artist-in-residence at Tai Kwun this year.

All the pieces will be performed by Lee and emerging local talents, including Belle Shiu on the pipa and Kung Wai-kin on the dizi and xindi (Chinese flutes).

From May 13 to 15. Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central

4. Hong Kong Dance Company

The Hong Kong Dance Company, known for its Chinese and modern dance productions, starts this year’s season with Nezha: Untold Solitude, as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the HKSAR’s establishment. Nezha, one of the most well-known and widely adapted Chinese folk legends, follows the story of a precocious teenage deity who was born with great power and was given a cosmic wheel by a Daoist immortal. His rebelliousness, ego and rashness leads him to kill the Dragon King’s favourite son and provokes a string of trouble. The company’s artistic director and choreographer Yang Yuntao and his creative team revive this legend in the modern Hong Kong setting.

From June 10 to 12. The Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

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5. Aurora Theatre

This Hong Kong independent theatre company collaborates with the Italian Cultural Institute to bring to the stage a farce about sexual politics in marriage: The Open Couple. Written by Nobel laureate playwright Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame, and starring Nicole Garbellini, Aurora Theatre’s founder and performer, and actor Jan Brink, the play tells the story of a man who persuades his suicidal wife that an open relationship is politically correct, so that he can embark on dalliances with younger women. The furious wife decides to live her own life, only to find that it’s now her husband who is becoming suicidal.

May 11 to 14. HK Rep Black Box, 8F, Sheung Wan Civic Centre, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan

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6. Theatre Ronin

In 2006, stage director and set and costume designer Alex Tam Hung-man, one of the recipients of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council’s three-year grant, founded Theatre Ronin, which has been putting on stage productions inspired by or adapted from Hong Kong literature, such as Chan Koon-chung’s Hong Kong Trilogy and Dung Kai-cheung’s Androgyny.

To celebrate its 16th anniversary, the theatre branches out from its usual focus on local literature and puts on a new play inspired by George Orwell’s Burmese Days. Unlike the author’s more well-known dystopian works Animal Farm and 1984, his debut novel is celebrated for flowery language that describes the landscape, architecture and community of colonial Burma during Orwell’s five-year stay when he, aged 19, arrived in Mandalay in 1922. Directed by Tam, this adapted work explores the spiritual world of young Orwell with contemporary theatrical aesthetics.

From May 13 to 15. The Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

7. City Contemporary Dance Company

Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, who dedicated his life to tango music, was known for his only published tango operita, 1968’s Maria de Buenos Aires. A number opera by nature, the production originally combines fugue, melodrama and toccata with tangos and Argentinian folk tunes. It tells of the story of María, a girl born in a poor district of Buenos Aires who becomes a famous nightclub singer. Not long after she rises to stardom, she is killed by the criminal underworld and then haunts the city as a ghost.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Piazzolla’s death, and Hong Kong choreographer Helen Lai pays tribute to this “king of tango”. CCDC’s Maria de Buenos Aires is a new production that blends tango opera and live music, featuring conductor Vivian Ip, local opera singer Carol Lin, Bel Canto Singers’ artistic director and opera singer David Quah, CCDC dancers, and a live music ensemble. “I’ve always loved Piazzolla’s work. This story is surreal and magical. Maria has different faces: provocative, tender, vulnerable but also powerful, making for a very interesting character,” Lai says in a press statement.

From May 13 to 15. Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre, 12 Hing Ning Road, Kwai Chung

8. The Peninsula Hong Kong

If you fancy musical performances over a decadent dinner, The Peninsula has several gastronomic musical experiences "up its menu". One may still remember the five-star hotel's Great Gatsby Immersive Dining Experience at Felix last year that ran for a total of 19 nights.

This year, in celebration of French May, Gaddi’s, the hotel’s Michelin-starred fine French restaurant, is offering a one-night-only performance of Une Soirée à L'Opéra ("An Evening at The Opera"). The show features the 1873 one-act opérette Pomme d'api by Jacques Offenbach, which will be adapted to 1960s Hong Kong. The original French singing will be accompanied by English dialogue in this new version. Guests can enjoy the performance over a French four-course meal, which includes Brittany langoustines with Kaviari Kristal caviar, and Bresse pigeon Wellington with Périgord foie gras, mara des bois strawberries and green peas.

The Lobby on the ground floor will present Une Nuit de Jazz ("A Night of Jazz"): a performance of sultry French chansons by French chanteuse Sabra Aïchaoui, French-Algerian trumpeter Aymen Didouna, and Spanish-trained classical and flamenco guitarist Soujit Ghosh. Chef Anton Ho will pair the jazz performance with a four-course set dinner, which will include white asparagus and Moro orange salad; and roast Challans duck breast with charcoal-grilled corn purée, duck praline and jus.

Une Soirée à L'Opéra will take place on May 22. Une Nuit de Jazz will take place on June 17. The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

9. West Kowloon

After months of postponement due to the fifth wave of the pandemic, West Kowloon finally opened its new arts, cultural and entertainment space this month, known as Wonderland. The 140,000 sq ft outdoor space is a platform for local and international pop concerts. Local Canto-pop band RubberBand collaborates with Hong Kong Festival Orchestra to kickstart the line-up this month with Live by the Harbour, in which the two music groups will reinterpret and perform RubberBand’s best-known songs, as well as classical and movie music. Next up in Wonderland will be Harbour the Sonic, a series of cross-genre concerts by musical acts Panther Chan and ToNick in late May.

From May 7 to 9. Wonderland, West Kowloon Cultural District

10. Eugene Pao Comfort Zone…Live!

Co-presented by Jazz World (HK) and Count-in Music, this concert features the Hong Kong music scene’s greats: Eugene Pao, one of Hong Kong’s most renowned jazz guitarists, and Ho Cheuk-yin (professionally known as CY Leo), a two-time champion at the World Harmonica Festival. The programme includes music from Comfort Zone, Pao’s first studio recording under his own name in more than 20 years. The recording is a collection of duets between Pao and established jazz musicians, including Ted Lo, Scott Dodd, Teriver Cheung and CY Leo.

June 3. Tsuen Wan Town Hall, 72 Tai Ho Road, Tsuen Wan

11. Tai Kwun

Dance artist Rick Lau, cappella artist and composer Anna Lo and choreographer Yuri Ng joined forces last year to create LauZone, a multilingual Hong Kong-styled cabaret. "Lau zone" is a Cantonese slang word used by the older generations to refer to immigrants to the Guangdong region. Inspired by the observation that these immigrants' descents in Hong Kong today are detached from their ancestors' dialects, the show explores collective memories of the city, cultural roots and inherited legacy through songs including True Bias, One Way Ticket and Men are Birds. This re-run brings back the original cast in six shows.

From June 2 to 5. JC Cube, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central

12. Zuni Icosahedron

Mathias Woo, a local pioneer in multimedia theatre who has had years of experience experimenting on stage aesthetics and visual imagery, directs a new show: Soundscape Magic Flute. Adapted from Mozart’s Magic Flute, this children's production, which soundscape will be enhanced by stage technologies, features 10 tunes which lyrics have been translated into Chinese. It tells the tale of how Prince Perseverance sets out to find a magic gadget to restore balance of the world, which as been turned into chaos by Queen Charity, who has caught the “greed virus” and turned stingy.

From August 6 to 7. Yuen Long Theatre, 9 Yuen Long Tai Yuk Road, Yuen Long.

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