October is officially music month in Macau as the annual Macao International Music Festival returns bringing internationally renowned artists from all over the world.
Organised by Macau’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, this year the festival celebrates its 30-year Pearl Jubilee and offers 20 programmes and a total of 27 performances in addition to workshops, guest talks, master classes, meet-the-artist opportunities and backstage tours.
The line-up typically features an eclectic mix of opera, orchestral and chamber music, Chinese folk music, jazz, and Broadway numbers.
This year, the festival kicks off with a production of the three-act opera by Puccini, Turandot, which includes the world famous aria “Nessun Dorma”, as well as Chinese folk melodies like “Jasmine Flower”, which tells the tale of a beautiful Chinese princess in search of a husband. The performance brings together the Macao Orchestra with internationally renowned Italian stage director Giancarlo del Monaco and acclaimed set and costume designer William Orlandi.
A highlight of this year’s programme promises to be the locally produced chamber opera, A Dream of Fragrancy. Several local art and culture professionals were invited to produce the opera, which marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the great playwright Tang Xianzu. Through a series of exquisite arias, A Dream of Fragrancy tells the story of Xianzu’s travels to Macau in 1591. Nearly all tickets for the two performances are sold out, prompting organisers to offer an additional performance of the opera on October 16, at 3pm, at Dom Pedro V Theatre.
For classical music fans, another highlight is “The Russian Legends” concert by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Valery Gergiev, interpreting the works by Dmitri Shostakovich.
Elsewhere, festivalgoers can enjoy the hypnotising fado of Portugal’s new rising star, Carminho, at Mount Fortress. Also, brilliant contemporary jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove will be playing several works by jazz giant Miles Davis. And promising classical violinist Ray Chen, and remarkable Portuguese pianist Adriano Jordão, will each take to the stage to present solo concerts at the Dom Pedro V Theatre.
To close the festival, renowned American conductor Timothy Brock will lead the Macao Orchestra in its live accompaniment to the silent films City Lights and The Gold Rush by comedy genius Charlie Chaplin, all performed outdoors in the Dr. Carlos d’Assumpção Park.
For those wishing for a more interactive experience, the festival’s diverse outreach programme offers a variety of activities – including the chance to take a backstage tour of the opera Turandot to see up-close how the production team has redesigned a series of costumes, props and sets to create a fresh new stage effect.
Percussion fans are in for a treat as well, as a master class from world-renowned percussionist Colin Currie will be held on October 10 for local musicians wishing to enhance their percussion skills. There are also opportunities to meet Lawrence Ku, an active musician in China’s jazz circle, who will introduce jazz and funk musical elements and showcase arrangement techniques, as well as Chinese jazz virtuoso Eugene Pao, who will talk about his experience of playing rock and jazz, and of infusing jazz elements into pop music.
Several of Macau’s world heritage sites, such as the Dom Pedro V Theatre, Mount Fortress and St. Dominic’s Church, will serve as the settings for the various concerts and performances over the month-long festival.
The 30th Macao International Music Festival runs from October 1 to 30.