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Laila, Kari Ylitalo - 50th Hong Kong Arts Festival

50th Hong Kong Arts Festival

25 February 2022 - 26 March 2022



EDIT: In view of the social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-venue programmes of the Festival will not take place as previously scheduled.

In order to enable audiences to continue to enjoy performances by some of the world’s best artists, and to witness the artistic achievements of Hong Kong’s outstanding talent, the Festival has rescheduled some in-venue programmes, and turned selected programmes into online presentations. Details can be found on HKAF website.

Much like the Festival’s journey over the past 50 years, the programmes encompass past, present and future ways in which audiences experience the performing arts, exemplified by two special programmes, A Tribute to Cantonese Opera Legend Sun Ma Sze Tsang and Laila. Cantonese opera, grounded in heritage and lineages, has been a part of the HKAF since Sun Ma Sze Tsang starred in its inaugural “analogue” programmes in 1974 and 1975. By contrast, decades on, cutting-edge digital and multimedia technologies are employed in an immersive opera experience redefining the meaning of the “stage” in 2022.

Committed to encouraging artistic innovations, the HKAF shows a special focus on arts and technology in its upcoming edition. Unleashing both artistic and technological potential, arts and technology takes an interdisciplinary approach to creating works in the performing arts and finding new ways of applying information and scientific technologies. Boundary-pushing works have begun to break free from long-standing physical and institutional limitations. The following are some more programmes in digital and mixed formats showcasing arts and technology inspirations and collaborations:

The special project Laila is an immersive and interactive opera experience, and one of the major highlights of the 50th HKAF in 2022. A co-production of the HKAF and the Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB), Laila will receive its international premiere in Hong Kong, the first time it will be performed outside Finland. Scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum from 25 February 2022, the experience will be free of charge to the public upon registration. There will also be a series of outreach and education events fronted by the HKAF’s Laila Outreach Ambassador Zeno Koo. Together with a series of outreach and education events, the special project Laila is solely sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

Highlights of the upcoming Festival include the following:

  • Wilson Ng conducts the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in the Festival Opening concert featuring Mahler’s Symphony No 4, a masterpiece that stirs the heart to euphoric heights, in a musical extravaganza and celebration of Hong Kong Talent.
  • Closing the 50th HKAF, two of contemporary China’s most well-established and innovative ensembles: the Shanghai Opera House and the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, led by renowned conductor Xu Zhong, imaginatively juxtapose masterworks, drawing inspiration from both Western and Chinese operatic traditions.
  • A Tribute to Cantonese Opera Legend Sun Ma Sze Tsang, in which veteran performer Sun Kim-long and emerging Cantonese opera performers pay tribute to Sun Ma Sze Tsang in full-length performances of the late revered Cantonese opera star’s best-known repertoire.
  • Distinguished theatre veteran Fredric Mao collaborates with the HKAF to create new classics of Cantonese opera, combining the best of opera traditions and the essence of modern theatre vision in his new production Cantonese Opera Creative Studio. Following an enthusiastic popular and critical response to his earlier work, this brand-new creative initiative will reimagine beloved highlights from the Cantonese opera repertoire.
  • In Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series – Dance Opera: Love Streams, a stellar cast of outstanding dancers from the Hong Kong Dance Company, renowned opera singers, and a live music ensemble perform an ambitious double bill of the chamber works Heart of Coral (2013 HKAF) and Women Like Us (2021 HKAF) and adapted as dance operas with top opera vocalists and live musicians.
  • The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Jakub Hrůša, live-streams three concerts from its home venue, the Joseph Keilberth Hall in Bamberg, featuring works by Smetana, Bruckner and Mahler.
  • One of the oldest ballet companies in the world, the Paris Opera Ballet, treats Hong Kong audiences to a dance extravaganza with the Asian video premiere of Rudolph Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet, newly filmed in 2021; Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov’s interpretation of Giselle; and Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul.
  • The eminent Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) brings you superlative music and innovative staging in two filmed productions: Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), conducted by Kirill Petrenko and starring tenor Jonas Kaufmann; and Shostakovich’s spectacular satirical opera The Nose.
  • Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake presents Hong Kong’s own version of her hit show Colossus, on which she worked long-distance in rehearsals with the bright young dancers of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to bring a “wildly mesmerising” dance about the individual’s place within the collective.
    Multi-international prize-winning pianist Chen Sa dazzles in a solo recital of works by Beethoven, Chopin and Schumann, before joining forces with conductor Yu Lu and the HK Phil for Beethoven’s magnificent “Emperor” Concerto.
  • In a new version of Miss Julie, co-commissioned and co-produced by the HKAF and Singapore Repertory Theatre, Strindberg’s psychological, naturalistic 19th-century drama is transplanted to colonial Hong Kong in 1949, starring a strong Singaporean and UK cast.
  • The Jockey Club Local Creative Talents Series: Yat-senMusical premieres in full staging, bringing together a stellar creative team and local performers to tell the origin story of a monumental historical figure in modern Chinese history.
  • The four rising stars of the Esmé Quartet explore the passionate, romantic and sensuous masterpieces of the European classical quartet tradition, creating a universe of emotions on an intimate scale.
  • Originally slated to premiere in 2020, We Are Gay is acclaimed playwright Candice Chong’s gripping portrayal of intergenerational tensions and how complicated relationships are navigated in the gay community in a play based on extensive research.
  • Making their third appearance on the Festival stage, the King’s Harmonica Quintet showcase the endless possibilities of the harmonica in a wonderful spectrum of works spanning across classical and contemporary.


Launched in 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is a major international arts festival committed to enriching the cultural life of the city. In February and March every year, the Festival presents leading local and international artists in all genres of the performing arts, placing equal importance on great traditions and contemporary creations. The Festival also commissions and produces work in Cantonese opera, theatre, music, chamber opera and contemporary dance by Hong Kong’s own creative talent and emerging artists; many of these works have had successful subsequent runs in Hong Kong and overseas. The Festival also presents over 250 “PLUS” and educational activities that offer diverse arts experiences to the community as well as tertiary, secondary and primary school students. In addition, through the “No Limits” project co-presented with The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Festival strives to create an inclusive space for people with different abilities to share the joy of the arts together.


25 February 2022
26 March 2022
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