For a while, the BMF was Beijing’s only opera game in town, and even today its programming stands out. This year offers three vastly different performances, from the minimalist to the complex, from the mundane to the fantastic. Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine
(Thu 19-Sat 21) (the human voice) is a heart-wrenching and deeply personal look at a solitary woman whose former boyfriend is getting married the following day. In the days before drunk texting, an ill-advised phone call was a spurned lover’s only option, and this lonely soprano makes that final call. (Although most versions are sung in monologue, this one incorporates a dancer for mood – a risky call, since this story stands on its own). Continuing its experiments with digital opera, the BMF also presents the Immersive Opera Vixen
(Mon 9-Wed 11). This is a 360-degree take on Leos Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen
, his unusual work drawn from a serialised novel that traces the lifecycles of a wily fox, her animal counterparts, and some hapless humans. In this case, the vixen (Rosie Lomas) is a street urchin, and the live singers mix with pre-recorded music audiences hear on headphones as they immerse themselves by promenading through various rooms. As for Wagner, we’re immersed whether we like it or not. This year, BMF delivers part two of the famous (or infamous, in terms of length) Ring Cycle. Die Walkure
(Tue 24, Fri 27) continues where Das Rheingold
left off, and sees the warrior Siegmund falling in love with his estranged sister Sieglinde – the result is Siegfried, which takes us to part three. Another time. This is a co-production with Salzburg Easter Festival and makes its Asian premiere at the BMF. If you see one Ring Cycle
work, see the one with the Ride of Valkyries
, and channel your inner helicopter.