In view of the reopening of performing venues on 19 February, the Hong Kong Arts Festival announces changes to in-venue programmes. Please visit this page for details.

The 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival 2013

October 08th, 2012

(Hong Kong, 8 October 2012) Today the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) announced details of the forthcoming 41st HKAF 2013, to be staged in 16 venues with the main part held over 30 days — from 21 February to 22 March, with performances by Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in late January. There are 145 performances in total, featuring 32 ensembles or solo artists from overseas and 17 from Hong Kong.

“The Hong Kong Arts Festival is one of Hong Kong’s most important cultural assets and a leading cultural event in Asia. It is a high-quality, high-energy, highlight of the year in this city and shows that there is much more to Hong Kong than shopping, dining and doing business.  

I am very pleased to join the Festival team to announce the exciting line-up of the first Festival in the new decade: the 41st Hong Kong Arts Festival. 

As member of the Executive Committee for a number of years with Charles Lee as Chairman, I have come to know the Festival and the staff. I see how dedicated and capable the team is; and the strong support for the Festival from the government, from donors and sponsors, from artists and audiences, and from the media and the community at large. As Chairman, I look forward to working closely with the team and with the Festival’s stakeholders, and going forward with them in the new decade.” (The Hon Ronald Arculli, Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd.) 

“In its 41st year, the HKAF’s programming continues to reflect and express the diversity of this city. This can be seen in the range and variety contained its programming, and also in the consideration of different perspectives contained in many productions — from those of two very similar but opposed communities in a grand ballet version of Romeo and Juliet to the visual puzzles of the one-man Leo and his doppelganger. 

In addition, leveraging on the e-connectivity of Hong Kong, we have revamped our website into a more user-friendly platform, and launched HKAF Mobile App for iPhone and android users. Programme information and ticket purchase can be accessed via mobile devices anytime anywhere. ” (Ms Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd.)

The budget for the 41st HKAF is estimated to be $105 million, with a subvention of $33.18 million from the Government through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and a donation close to 11 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. Projected revenues are estimated at nearly $20 million in sponsorships, donations and other revenues, and about $40 million in ticket sales.


Europe’s oldest working theatre established in 1737, San Carlo Theatre, Naples brings to the Festival two distinguished opera productions and a music concert: La Traviata is a new staging of Verdi’s romantic masterpiece, directed by award-winning film director Ferzan Ozpetek and designed by triple Oscar-winning art director Dante Ferretti; ll Marito Disperato is a highly entertaining comic opera by Neapolitan composer Cimarosa; the Festival Finale Viva Verdi concert celebrates the bicentenary of Giuseppe Verdi with the San Carlo Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of Michele Mariotti.

Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts is the single most important opera of the 20th century by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. This monumental work revolutionised opera and stage aesthetics. Hong Kong is its only host city in Asia.

China National Peking Opera Company’s Empress Dowager Cixi and Princess Deling, written by He Jiping and directed by Fredric Mao, depicts the human side of the autocrat. Also presented by the Company are famous excerpts that bring out the highly stylised singing and acting of lao dan (old woman role) in The Artistry of Lao Dan.

New Stage production Heart of Coral is a chamber opera after the tumultuous life of Xiao Hong (1911–1942), contemporary of Eileen Chang and perhaps the most celebrated Chinese woman writer in the 1930s.

An invaluable chance to see three generations of Cantonese opera artists on the same stage in Hong Kong’s only remaining pre-World War II cinema building — Yau Ma Tei Theatre, In Yau Ma Tei – A Legacy of Cantonese Opera celebrates this time-honoured performing arts form in a selection of classics performed by three leading Cantonese opera artists and their promising proteges. The programme is accompanied by talks, guided tours and cultural walks in Yau Ma Tei.


2013 sees a high-octane year for music, featuring highly esteemed international and local ensembles and soloists. World-renowned conductor Riccardo Muti leads the distinguished Chicago Symphony Orchestra in music by Brahms, Beethoven and orchestral scores by Italian masters. Praised by The Times as “the best chamber orchestra on earth”, the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) plays two concerts with the ensemble’s signature vitality and virtuosity, alongside the Asian premiere of The Reef, where a film capturing wave-riders crashing onto world heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is accompanied by live music.

Spanning centuries and transcending time and space, viol master Jordi Savall exhibits the human quality of the incredible soundscapes produced on his 1697 seven-string viola da gamba; best-known for its French Baroque renditions, Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble perform dramatic music by Rameau and Gluck; Laurence Dreyfus’ award-winning viol consort presents two programmes exploring music by English masters in the 16th and 17th century as well as contrapuntal creations.

The Festival also sees the Asian Premiere of pianist Mikhail Rudy’s Pictures at an Exhibition featuring Mussorgsky’s much-loved score with film animation; an evening of Polish music by the Lutos awski Quartet; Hong Kong’s Die Konzertisten singing Benjamin Britten’s vocal and sacred music in celebration of the composer’s centenary; a narrated concert My First Four Seasons for families featuring Vivaldi’s enduring score; Hong Kong Sinfonietta presenting Germany’s quickest-rising star cellist Valentin Radutiu; Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra offering a world premiere and three Hong Kong premieres. 

The Festival continues its tradition of presenting emerging international and local musical talents. Among them are “the finest clarinetist alive” Martin Frost in his clarinet recital; young French quartet Quatuor Ebene which, excelling in both classical music and jazz, demonstrates its genre-bending ability in two concerts; and pianist Ralph van Raat displaying his masterly interpretations in Ives’ towering Concord Sonata and Cage’s complex Sonatas and Interludes. Local emerging talents include prodigious piano talent Piao Xingji and Hong Kong-born flautist Wilson Ng accompanied by his passionate pianist friend KaJeng Wong.


The musical joviality continues with the 53rd Grammys’ Best New Artist Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society and Ladino diva Yasmin Levy’s Andalucian Flamenco, Turkish and contemporary music. The excitement continues with Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra’s sensational mix of gypsy strings and brass band, traditional Bulgarian polyphony, Orthodox chant, electric guitar and ethnic percussion.


This year’s theatre programmes is a blend of visually challenging spectacles, rollicking comedies, black humour, subversive classic tale and disappearing Chinese puppetry.    

The National Theatre of Great Britain’s smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors comes to Hong Kong for an exclusive Asian season; Tony Award-winning American playwright David Henry Hwang’s sexy romantic comedy, Chinglish, brings lashings of piquantly hilarious mistranslations; the National Theatre of China’s Green Snake is a daring reimagining of the Chinese classic, directed by Tian Qinxin and performed by a star-studded cast; local playwright Wong Wing-sze spices up the battle between an actor and a theatre critic with her signature black humour in Smear; New Stage production Blast looks at alienation in confined urban living spaces, written by Wang Haoran and directed by veteran director-actor Chan Chu-hei. Award-winning young theatre company 1927 brings you into a cinematic musical tale in The Animals and Children Took to the Streets; The TEAM from New York takes you on a musical voyage in Mission Drift, a critique of capitalism; Hand Stories revisits over 50 years of Chinese history in a one-hour puppetry performance; Circle of Eleven’s LEO is a gravity-defying theatrical wonder that turns your perceptions upside down. 


The Hong Kong stage is graced by a diversity of distinguished dancers and choreographers across genres and cultures this year. The USA’s starriest dance company, the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) brings to Hong Kong two gala showcases and a full-length work performed by a starry cast. 

In the Dance Gala, ABT offers a breadth of dance works soaring across three centuries and Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, arguably the best known and most beloved dance version. Fabulous Beast’s Rian is a collaboration of two giants of Irish culture, with eight dancers from around the world and five of Ireland’s top musicians. Nya features 10 dynamic young dancers with music from opposite sides of the Mediterranean. 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Contemporary Dance Series features 11 gifted choreographers in six innovative new dance works, set to music by local composers. Asia Pacific Dance Platform presents three choreographers/dancers from China, Israel and Taiwan. Last but not least, Momix Dance Theater returns with a full-length spectacle, Bothanica, where four seasons unfold in an exhilarating union of athleticism, circus, props, shadow and light, the human body and a sense of heart-warming humour. 


Growing by the year, the Young Friends (YFS) continues to nurture the artistic temperament among young people in Hong Kong. Every year the sheer variety of what is on offer is fascinating to young audiences who show increasing interest in the Festival. A Young Friends member has a whole new world of opportunities open to them.  Aside from  attending  selected rehearsals and performances, members are offered tailored-made educational specials, with programme contents and durations specially designed for their appreciation. Young Friends members can also participate in workshops held by international performers, meet-the-artist sessions, lecture demonstrations by local and international performers, and opportunities to interview stage stars, to name but a few.

In addition to their usual activities, the Young Friends Alumni also offers  a Mentorship Scheme which engages members through thought-provoking discussions with Young Friends Alumni after attending a Festival programme. 


More than great performances, Festival PLUS offers audiences an exciting array of activities that deepen and enrich their Festival experiences. The 2013 PLUS programme highlights the exploration of Cantonese opera treasures in the Yau Ma Tei neighbourhood in a series of heritage walks and talks by generations of local opera stars. Western opera enthusiasts will find a series of Verdi operas recently captured on film at the Teatro Regio di Parma as well as documentaries on the legendary collaborators of Einstein on the Beach. Details of the full programme, including masterclasses, workshops, backstage tours and more will be announced in December.


The Programme & Booking Guide is now available at all URBTIX outlets.

Advance Bookings for the 41st HKAF will be accepted by fax, post, via HKAF App or on the Festival website ( from 12:00am on 9 October to 11:59pm on 30 November 2012. 

In addition to previewing Festival programme details, the all-new 2013 HKAF App, now available for download via iOS or Android platform, gives quick access to ticket bookings during the Advance Booking period. Advance Bookings via mobile devices can also be made via the Festival’s mobile website (   

During the Advance Booking period, audiences can enjoy a 6- or 12-month interest-free period for purchasing Festival tickets in instalments with the Master, Visa and co-branded/Affinity cards of Bank of East Asia (BEA). This applies to each booking of over HK$1,000, after subscription discounts.

Audiences in Guangdong Province will benefit from a Cash On Delivery ticketing service, while patrons in other provinces in China who book through credit cards can choose to receive their tickets by courier. 

Counter Bookings will start on 8 December. Patrons can book their tickets at URBTIX (online at, by phone (852) 2111 5999 or at URBTIX outlets.)

About the Hong Kong Arts Festival

Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major annual international celebration of the performing arts and one of the region’s premier cultural events, held in February and March each year, serving an audience of 150,000. Performances take place in over a dozen venues throughout Hong Kong, supplemented by over 100 PLUS events; and 10,000 Young Friends are given special access to Festival performances and events. The Festival presents the world’s top artists as well as stars of tomorrow and gives equal importance to great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in theatre, chamber opera and contemporary dance; some Festival productions have toured to other Asian cities after their Hong Kong premiere.


For further enquiries, please contact Ms Katy Cheng, Marketing Director, on 2824 3555 or:
Ms Wendy Chung (Opera and Classical Music)
Direct Line: 2828 4931, Email:
Ms Alexia Chow (Chinese Opera, Theatre and Dance)
Direct Line: 2828 4933, Email:
Ms Elly Yip (Jazz and World Music)
Direct Line: 2828 4932, Email:


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