Xiqu (Chinese opera) is a performing art integrating singing, acting, martial arts, music, costume and juggling. Originating as early as the third century and once the primary genre of Chinese theatre, there were 360 forms of xiqu. Cantonese opera became the first item in Hong Kong to be inscribed onto the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. Other well-known genres, including Kunju (Kunqu) and Jingju (Beijing opera), were also inscribed onto this list in 2001 and 2010 respectively.
In recent years, the number of Cantonese opera performances and operatic song concerts taking place in Hong Kong has increased to over one thousand per year. Attendance figures rank the highest among the four major types of performing arts (theatre, music, dance and xiqu).
In recognition of the importance of preserving xiqu and to celebrate its rich heritage, we are building the Xiqu Centre with excited anticipation. Set to be completed in 2016 and open to the public in 2017, this world-class arts venue will be wholly dedicated to this remarkable art form.
Our vision is to grow and diversify the audience base, and to enhance their appreciation of the art form; to nurture creative talent and foster artistic excellence across all xiqu genres, with a focus on local artists and Cantonese opera; and to foster cultural exchange, experimentation and collaboration between xiqu and other art forms.
By presenting exciting and innovative performances and educational programmes, while making sure to respect and honour the traditional values of the art form, we hope to establish Hong Kong and the Xiqu Centre as the new global gateway to the art of xiqu.
In the run up to the opening of the Xiqu Centre, we are presenting various activities inspired by this art form. Our iconic flagship event West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre takes place every year, offering a mix of xiqu, dance, music, visual arts and fringe programmes. The Xiqu Centre Seminar Series provides a platform for artists and academics to explore and share how the art form can be developed regionally, and to contribute to the artistic strategies for the Xiqu Centre.