Taiwan has been fortunate in so many respects amid the COVID-19 pandemic, from the relatively limited number of cases and deaths, to the government’s rollout of support and stimulus programs to help companies and workers in industries hardest-hit by border closures and travel restrictions.
However, the arts and cultural sector, despite losses caused by the temporary closures of venues in under the auspices of the National Performing Arts Center and those run by local governments, has fared far better than its counterparts in many other nations, largely due to government support at all levels.
Theaters nationwide are slowly reopening and more musical, theater and dance productions are taking place every week, albeit with reductions in seating due to social distancing guidelines.
Photo courtesy of the National Taichung Theater
Two eagerly awaited shows are scheduled for this weekend, one in Taichung and the other in Taipei, in very different genres and styles, but with one common denominator: They are both a blend of East and West.
As of press time last night, there were about 60 tickets left for Si. Mi chiamano Mimi — Love Duette from Puccini (大家都叫我咪咪 — 浦契尼愛的詠嘆調) at the National Taichung Theater Playhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Directed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) founder — and opera buff — Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), the program features Taiwanese spoprano Lin Ling-hui (林玲慧) and South Korean tenor Choi Seung-jin singing a selection of arias and duets from four of Giacomo Puccini’s most famous operas: La Boheme, Turandot, Madame Butterfly and Tosca, as well as the less well-known La Fanciulla del West.
Photo courtesy of the Century Contemporary Dance Company
These include Rodolfo’s aria Che gelida manina an, of course, Mimi’s aria from La Boheme that gives the program its title.
Lin Hwai-min was impressed by Lin Ling-hui when she sang the title role in his production of Tosca for the National Symphony Orchestra (國家交響樂團) in February last year at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.
She was also impressive in the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts-Deutsche Oper am Rhein’s production of Turandot in April last year.
Choi, who has performed extensively in Europe, might be familiar to local opera fans who saw the National Theater’s production of Gordon Chin (金希文) and Joyce Chiou’s (邱瑗) Mackay: The Black Bearded Bible Man (黑鬚馬偕) in November 2008.
Si. Mi chiamano Mimi — Love Duette from Puccini runs 100 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission, and will be performed in Italian, with Chinese surtitles.
Subtitles will not be needed for Century Contemporary Dance Company’s (CCDC, 世紀當代舞團) production of Rouges (荒塚的繁花) at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park’s Umay Theater on Saturday and Sunday.
CCDC founder Yao Shu-fen (姚淑芬) invited dancer/choreographer Chen Wei-ning (陳維寧), who worked with the company on last year’s The Present (禮物之靈) and Lost in the Lust (慾土) in 2016, to create a production for this year, along with Mo Tian-yun (莫天昀), who danced in Lost in the Lust and has developed a reputation in recent years for his work blending contemporary and street dance and Beijing opera.
Chen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kaohsiung Medical University and a master’s from National Taipei University of the Arts, used the money she won with a Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲) dance scholarship to travel to Argentina to study tango. Her works since her return to Taiwan have used contemporary dance and tango to delve into the psychological aspects of contemporary issues and relationships.
For Rouges, which blends tango and Beijing opera as it explores love, time and space, Chen and Mo invited Peking opera actor Chang Hua-wei (張化緯) to sing the role of the choreographer’s mother, while Wu Kang-ju (巫康裘) composed a score that blends tango’s guitar with elements of Beijing opera.
The cast includes two dancers, Lai You-feng (賴有豐) and Chen Dai-wen (陳代雯), in addition to the creators.
Rouges was to have been performed last month, but was postponed amid disease-prevention measures. People who bought tickets for the May shows were able to transfer them to this weekend’s performances, so there are only a handful of seats left for the three shows.
This story has been corrected since it was first published.
WHAT: Si. Mi chiamano Mimi — Love Duette from Puccini
WHEN: Saturday at 2:30pm
WHERE: National Taichung Theater Playhouse (台中國家歌劇院) 101, Huilai Rd Sec 2, Taichung City (台中市惠來路二段101號)
ADMISSION: NT$400 to NT$1,000, available at the theater’s box office, online at www.artsticket.com and convenience store ticket kiosks. Limited number of seats left
WHEN: Saturday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm
WHERE: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區), Umay Theater (烏梅劇院), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$800 and NT$2,000; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com and convenience store ticket kiosks.
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