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National Grand Theater opens on Dec 22
Update: 11/14/2007 12:34:00 PM Source: Xinhua


Beijing's newly completed futuristic National Center for the Performing Arts, formerly known as the National Grand Theater, will begin its formal performance season on December 22.


Photo taken on Sept. 17, 2007 shows the interior of the newly completed China's National Grand Theater in Beijing. A series of performances will take place to test the equipment of the multi-billion-yuan construction starting from Sept. 25, 2007, according to local media. [Xinhua]

Tickets for all shows are available via the center's website,, which was launched on Tuesday, or from the center's box office and regular ticketing agents. The English version of the website is not yet completed.

All the center's phone receptionists would be able to handle requests in basic English.

An inaugural concert will be given by the China National Symphony Orchestra (CNSO) and the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Soloist Li Yundi, a young Chinese pianist, will play a piece by Maurice Ravel, said Deng Yijiang, deputy president of the National Center for the Performing Arts, during a news briefing.

The Mariinsky Theater Opera Company (known until 1991 as the Kirov), from St Petersburg, Russia, will perform Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor on December 25. It will be the first foreign art troupe to give a performance in the building.

According to Deng, between December 22 and April 6, about 6,000 Chinese and overseas artists will give 180 performances, including operas such as Othello and ballets including Swan Lake, Jewels and Le Corsaire.

Among international performers who will be appearing will be conductors Valery Gergiev and Seiji Ozawa, and sopranos Kathleen Battle and Kiri Te Kanawa. Apart from the Mariinsky Theater of Russia, other famous foreign art troupes such as the New York Philharmonic will also perform.

According to Deng, these shows are expected to attract an audience totaling 300,000 and more than 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the opening season.

Despite its huge development costs and high profile, the National Center for the Performing Arts is not just for the wealthy, he said.

The center will sell tickets for as little as 30 yuan ($4) and the average ticket price will be lower than that for a regular show in Beijing, he said.

"Our purpose is not just to make money, but rather to attract a much wider audience to the National Center of the Performing Arts," he said.

However, the cost of tickets for the inaugural show is far higher, ranging from 180 yuan to 1,080 yuan ($24-$144).

According to a woman surnamed Ren, who answered the phone at the theater, 2,000 tickets will be available for the opening performance.

"We received more than 2,000 phone calls asking for ticket reservations in just two hours after the office opened on Tuesday," said Ren.

The building has been controversial, with some describing the arts complex designed by French architect Paul Andreu as out of keeping with its near neighbor, the Forbidden City. Others hail it as a futuristic, signature building.

The building, which is to the west of Tian'anmen Square, boasts three large halls - a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater.

Construction on the National Grand Theater began in December 2001 and was completed in late September this year. Total investment stood at 2.69 billion yuan ($336 million).

Commenting on the change of the building's English name, Ren said, "Its previous English version - the National Grand Theater - could easily cause confusion as we have three specialized venues: the opera house, the concert hall and a theater. The change of name was made after soliciting opinions from many experts."

Editor: canton fair

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