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China celebrates Portugal ties with yearlong cultural events program

By CHEN NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-17 08:49
The China National Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro (left), and accompanied by Portuguese soprano, Elisabete Matos (right), gives a concert on June 10 at the Beijing Concert Hall. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Portugal, a concert given by the China National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro was held at the Beijing Concert Hall on June 10.

The concert featured seven repertoires including Vissi d'arte, an aria from Giacomo Puccini's opera La Tosca; La luce langue, an aria from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Macbeth; and Dance of the Yao People, a work composed by Liu Tieshan and Mao Yuan and inspired by the folk dances of the Yao ethnic people in China.

"This is my fourth time performing in China. Along with our Portuguese conductor and Chinese musicians, we showed the way different cultures can come together musically," says Portuguese soprano, Elisabete Matos, at the Portuguese embassy in Beijing.

The soprano was last in the capital in 2013, playing the lead role in Puccini's opera, Turandot, which was produced by the National Center for the Performing Arts. Along with the NCPA Symphony Orchestra and NCPA Chorus, Matos shared the stage with Israeli conductor Daniel Oren.

"I had a great experience in China working with talented Chinese artists. Music makes people brothers and sisters. We are just one culture in the music world," she says.

June 10 marks Portugal's National Day and the date also celebrates the life of Luis Vaz de Camoes, Portugal's national poet, who lived in Macao in the late 1500s, where he wrote his epic poem, Os Lusiadas.

"We celebrate our national day and culture on June 10. This year, we also celebrate our friendship with China through a series of cultural exchange programs," says Jose Augusto Duarte, Portugal's ambassador to China.

According to Duarte, the yearlong celebration of the relationship between China and Portugal will see about 20 cultural events covering music, cinema, theater and literature taking place, as well as exhibitions, which will be held in several Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Artists and performers from both countries will be involved.

Portuguese Minister of Culture Graca Fonseca was in Beijing to attend the concert. During her stay in the capital, Fonseca also officiated the second China-Portugal Literature Forum on Wednesday, another activity on the 2019 Portugal Cultural Festival program. Some of Portugal's most acclaimed writers attended the forum, including Jose Luis Peixoto and Bruno Vieira Amaral.

Highlights of the yearlong program of events includes the exhibition The Land of Glazed Cities: 500 Years of Azulejo in Portugal, which showcases over 50 ceramic paintings from the 16th to the 21st centuries and runs until Oct 7 at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The ambassador says that, besides programs launched in Chinese cities, Chinese artists will also visit and perform in Portugal this year.

On Feb 9, nearly 70 artists from the China National Peking Opera Company performed in Lisbon, showcasing extracts from classic Peking Opera pieces, such as At the Cross Roads and Farewell My Concubine.

On Feb 8, 1979, China and Portugal established diplomatic relations. In 1999, the two countries realized the smooth handover of Macao from Portugal to China.

The two countries have had frequent high-level exchanges since they forged a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2005, achieving numerous cooperative goals in various fields. In December, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Portugal where he and his Portuguese counterpart, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, discussed advancing bilateral ties to benefit the two countries.

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