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Egg Shell promises affordable arts for all
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08:52, November 13, 2007

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Despite its huge development costs and iconic profile, the National Center for the Performing Arts, previously known as the National Grand Theater, is not just for the wealthy, its vice-president said.

Designed by French architect Paul Andreu, the center will sell tickets for as little as 30 yuan ($4) when the curtain formally rises on its First International Season, which runs from December 22 to April 6, 2008, he said.

Deng Yijiang, the center's vice-president, said the average ticket price will be lower than that for a regular Beijing show, with the cheapest seats costing just 30 yuan.

"Our goal is not to make money, but rather to attract a much wider audience to the National Center of Performing Arts," he said.

Deng said 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the opening season, which is expected to attract some 300,000 people.

Valery Gergiev and the Kirov-Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg, Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur and the London Philharmonic, soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and tenor Jose Carreras will headline the opening season. Chinese artists scheduled to perform include Lang Lang, Li Yundi, Wang Jian, Peng Liyuan and Dai Yuqiang.

Despite the controversy that has surrounded the construction of the "Egg Shell" beside the Great Hall of the People in Tian'anmen Square, countless performers and companies from around the world have expressed an interest in playing there, Chen Zuohuang, the center's music director, said.

He said many performers had shown a keen interest in the opening season, especially famed Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who will lead the National Symphony Orchestra of China at two New Year Concerts on December 31 and January 1. Chen said Ozawa had been involved in all aspects of the production, from programming to inviting soloists and training the chorus.

"The programs reflect the artistic vision of a theater. As music director and a member of the artistic committee, I have the responsibility to present the best shows for the audience," Chen said.

As well as music, the center will host ballet and theater during the opening season.

From December 31 to January 2, the center will stage Swan Lake with the role of Odette (the white swan) being played by the prima ballerina from the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, Russia, where Tchaikovsky's famous work made its debut in 1895.

Tickets for all shows are available via the center's website, www.chncpa.org, which opens today, as well as from the center's box office and regular ticketing agents.

Source: China Daily

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