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Will the Greater Bay Area Initiative Boost Hong Kong’s Opera Sector?

When Opera Hong Kong staged Carmen in May as part of this year’s Le French May festival, the Hong Kong opera company recorded its second consecutive sell-out, following Aida last year. The production was commissioned for Opera Hong Kong — designed and implemented by Jean-Romain Vesperini and Bruno de Lavenère, the minimalist set was a hit — and the Asian Review of Books noted that while “the company has, for obvious financial and artistic reasons, tended to engage in co-productions shared with other leading companies, being able to eschew these for complete creative control is a sign of both development and creative confidence”.

Opera Hong Kong celebrates its 15th season this year, and new chairman KL Wong is focused on growing the city’s western opera culture. Wong is paying particular attention on growing long-term audiences and talent, through an education and outreach programme and the Jockey Club Opera Hong Kong Young Artist Development Programme, a three-year programme funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust that began in 2015.

“We have a three-prong strategy: the first is to enhance even further the quality of our opera productions,” Wong said. “Raising money is not easy but we must break this bottleneck. The last two operas that we presented were completely sold out so we need to make sure our productions achieve the same quality we achieved in Aida and Carmen. The second prong is education and outreach — opening our own music centre where we train students and our children’s chorus, our student ticketing campaign — we are here for the long term so we need to focus on young people.”