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The National Kaohsiung Center For The Arts To Stage Verdi's LA TRAVIATA

CHIEN Wen-pin, Weiwuying General and Artistic Director, will conduct all four performances.

The National Kaohsiung Center For The Arts To Stage Verdi's LA TRAVIATA

When the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, known as Weiwuying, staged Puccini's Turandot in August 2020 it proved that despite the coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan was capable of mounting world-class opera productions for live audiences. Now Weiwuying presents its acclaimed production of Verdi's La Traviata as a beacon of live performance at a time when so many opera houses around the world remain sadly silent. Weiwuying welcomes you to join us in celebrating not only Verdi's great work, but the magic and importance of live opera itself. Performances will take place on March 18 and 19 at 19:30 and March 20 and 21 at 14:30.

CHIEN Wen-pin, Weiwuying General and Artistic Director, will conduct all four performances. "Opera has played a prominent role in Weiwuying's artistic planning since its grand opening in October 2018," says Chien. "We have high expectations for our productions, and are proud not only of our success in bringing wider audiences to our opera house but also in providing opportunities for talented local singers. At this time, we cannot overstate how blessed we have been to live in the safe environment that is Taiwan while the rest of the world is struggling with the pandemic. As a member of the global community, we want to set an example of how to control the pandemic while still allowing people to enjoy their daily lives-which very much includes how to appreciate the arts in a public, communal setting."

Safety is of primary importance to Weiwuying and we devote considerable time, care and effort to ensure the health of our audiences, staff, and performers. In line with national risk assessment guidelines for large-scale public gatherings, Weiwuying's pandemic control response includes forehead temperature measurements, frequent hand disinfection, contact information registration, regular deep cleaning of the auditorium and mandatory usage of facial masks. Control measures are subject to adjustment to reflect the latest instructions from the central government. Weiwuying will continue to do everything necessary to promote safety and enable the vitally important medium of live performance to reach our audiences.

YANG Shih-ping's staging of La Traviata, co-produced by Weiwuying and the Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival, had its world premiere on June 3, 2016 at Kaohsiung's Chih-Teh Hall, two years before Weiwuying opened its doors. "The word 'revival' is key to this opera production," says Chien. "Having the opportunity to revisit stage director Yang's vision, in the theatre where it was originally envisioned, is a crucial step in building a foundation of stability in Taiwan's opera scene."

Verdi's 1853 masterpiece contains some of the best-known, most-loved music in all opera. Weiwuying's production will be performed by a cast of leading Taiwanese soloists accompanied by a Kaohsiung-based orchestra and chorus. "It is no coincidence that La Traviata is among the most popular operas in the repertoire," says Chien. "The quality of the music and the captivating storyline ensure that it is not only a perfect introduction to opera for newcomers, but also a source of ongoing fascination for experienced operagoers and professional musicians alike."

Stage Director Yang Shih-ping has adopted a contemporary staging for the timeless and heartbreaking story of two young lovers torn apart by the hypocrisies of a lavishly decadent high society and the cruelties of fate. Yang explains that many of the themes of the opera, especially the power relationships between men and women, not only persist but have often become more acute in the modern world. "In light of this," he adds, "we have chosen to present the story in a time and place vaguely similar to contemporary Taiwan. This world remains slightly unreal, however, like looking at the moon in water. Watching the action on stage, then observing the actual world around you, it is difficult to tell what is reality and what is not."

The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying), designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, opened in October 2018. It is set in a spectacular 116-acre (470,000 square meters) subtropical park in the Fengshan district of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and is Taiwan's most significant cultural investment in a generation. The building's signature wave-like single sweeping roof, covering a surface area of 35 acres (141,000 square meters), houses the world's largest performing arts center under one roof. In addition to the 2,236-seat opera house, Weiwuying also contains a 1,981-seat concert hall, a 1,210-seat playhouse, a 434-seat recital hall and an outdoor theater. An outdoor performance space linking the building with the adjoining park can accommodate audiences of up to 20,000. Weiwuying has announced a full program of events through June 2021, featuring local and international artists performing piano recitals, concerts, opera and theatre productions.

Conductor Chien Wen-pin is General and Artistic Director of the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying). Born in Taipei, Chien obtained his Master's Degree in Conducting from the National University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He was Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra (Taiwan Philharmonic) from 2001 to 2007, Resident Conductor of the Pacific Music Festival from 1998 to 2004 and Kapellmeister (Resident Conductor) of Deutsche Oper am Rhein from 1996 to 2018. He frequently appears as guest conductor with orchestras in Europe and Asia.

Stage Director Yang Shih-ping has worked, studied and taught in Taiwan and the United States, where he received an MFA in directing from Columbia University. As a director, editor, actor and teacher he has worked extensively in both film and theater and is currently a lecturer in the Theater Arts Department of National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung.

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