British premiere of Datong – The Chinese Utopia

Hong Kong Arts Festival will present the European premiere of an exhilarating new chamber opera by Chan Hing-yan at Richmond Theatre on 27 and 28 July 2017.

A century of Chinese history distilled into three acts, Datong – The Chinese Utopia tells the incredible story of utopian philosopher and constitutional reformer, Kang Youwei, through the viewpoint of his daughter Kang Tongbi, a pioneering Chinese feminist. Adapted from the award-winning docu-drama by Evans Chan described as “a rare masterpiece in the history of Chinese cinema”, the opera recounts Kang’s epic struggle to modernise China and realise his dream of utopia. It takes audiences on a sweeping journey from the last days of the Qing Dynasty through to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

Librettist, Evans Chan: “The Kang Youwei story, especially the Hundred Days Reform, has riveted modern Chinese audiences for more than a century. Part of my interest in conjuring Kang Youwei from the mist of history is to evoke that humanistic, utopian yearning at the origin of the Chinese civilization. It feels especially significant today to remember that there is always room for hope even in the darkest times. Datong runs the gamut of human emotions, through the lived experiences of our extraordinary protagonist, and reflects on mankind’s enduring dream for peace”.

Datong – The Chinese Utopia will play a strictly limited run at Richmond Theatre as part of the Hong Kong Music Series, a three-week music festival across London in July celebrating the best of Hong Kong’s musical talents, and marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

Directed by Tang Shu-wing and composed by Chan Hing-yan, Datong – The Chinese Utopia mines a rich seam of musical influences ranging from Benjamin Britten to The Beatles, Peking Opera to the American anthem, performed by a stellar cast of musicians and conducted by Lio Kuokman.

Presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF), one of the leading multi-disciplinary arts festivals in the world, Datong – The Chinese Utopia enjoyed a sold-out run in Hong Kong for its 2015 world premiere.

Tisa Ho, Executive Director said: “Datong: The Chinese Utopia is an exquisite chamber opera created and performed by talent from Hong Kong, which marries east and west, in terms of form and content. The central story deals with an important moment in Chinese history which also shows, among other things, ways in which the thinking of this great Asian philosopher has intersected with values shared from East to West today”.

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