About the New Opera of Peking (Laiyin Opera)
It was the life-long ambition of the famous Chinese baritone Keqing Liu to build an opera house for European opera in Beijing. Now that ambition has become a reality with the inauguration of the Laiyin Opera (“Laiyin” is the Chinese transliteration of “Rhein”, the great river of Germany and the setting of some of the greatest Wagnerian operas. “Laiyin” in Chinese can literally mean “Germany” and even “Europe”.)
The inaugural concert was a grand opera gala featuring Keqing Liu with his friends and colleagues on April 23, 2016, Liu’s 59th birthday, in Beijing’s Century Theater. Broadcast by CCTV, the Chinese state television, the performance included a chorus of 145 voices, 12 soloists and an orchestra of 60 musicians conducted by the famous German Maestro Helge Dorsch, who has subsequently been appointed as the artistic director of the new Laiyin Opera.
Speaking about his ambitious project, baritone Keqing Liu says,
“I have wanted to build a private opera company in China for more than ten years. But now is the right time to go ahead with our plans, in response to President Xi’s “along the way” policy. The most important thing is to bring ordinary people into the experience of bel canto opera in China. Of course, we have some of the world’s most beautiful theaters, such as the National Theater in Beijing, as well as Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou. And traditional Chinese Opera is very much alive and a great ambassador for Chinese culture. But China is so large - there are many artists and musicians who wish for more opportunities to show their talents in the realm of European music and opera. The Laiyin Opera is poised to help those people realize their dreams of bringing their art closer to the Chinese people.”
The new Laiyin Opera will consist of three divisions. The opera will ultimately be able to call upon the resources of a chorus of 150 singers and an orchestra of 110 musicians. In addition, there are plans to build a professional ballet company as well as a special division for children and youth, which will include a puppet theater and a children’s choir.
A large new building is under construction to house all three divisions of the Laiyin Opera and to provide a venue for the performances. It is expected to be finished in 2018, so the upcoming performances will take place in other venues, including the Century Theatre and the Gongren Tiyuchang, or Workers’s Stadium.