Does Western Opera Matter in Hong Kong and Beyond?


Evening Panel Discussion

Drinks Reception: 6:30pm
Discussion: 7:00pm
Close: 8:30pm


Classical opera is in many ways the archetypal Western art form and the Opera House is often the pride of municipalities, large and small, from Moscow to Buenos Aires. But opera in Hong Kong is very far geographically and culturally from its birthplace. This panel will discuss the role that Western opera plays — or could play — artistically, culturally and economically in Hong Kong, both for its own sake, but also in Hong Kong’s quest to achieve and maintain its status as a “world city”. Antonello de Riu, Warren Mok, Ken Smith, and Peter Gordon (moderator) will discuss what opera actually is before moving on to an evaluation of its increasing popularity in Hong Kong (and China); its role in developing cultural, political and personal ties between Hong Kong and, in particular, its birthplace Italy. And in the context of the artistic and commercial state of opera in Hong Kong, interactions between Hong Kong and Mainland China, the effect of the increasing number of Chinese artists on the world stage and what needs to be done locally in terms of education and infrastructure to sustain this apparent momentum.


Antonello de Riu is the Consul General of Italy to Hong Kong and Macau. A career diplomat whose previous postings include Tunisia and Iran, in 2016, he founded the “Bellissima Italia”, a new a festival in Hong Kong for Italian culture and lifestyle, and in which opera plays a central role. He has written of opera’s central role as a vehicle of Italian “soft power”.



Warren Mok is an acclaimed tenor who continues to sing in the world’s leading opera houses, he is also the founder and Artistic Director of Opera Hong Kong. With his debut on 1987 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Mok became one of the first Chinese opera singers of classical Western opera to reach international status. He is also artistic director of the Macau International Music Festival, and has been awarded the “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana” by the Government of Italy and “Chevalier dans I’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the Government of France.


Ken Smith is an award-winning critic and journalist. He covers music and cultural developments on five continents for wide range of media. He currently divides his time between New York and Hong Kong, where he is the Asian performing arts critic for the FT. He is a regular columnist for China’s Opera magazine and covers opera in China for several magazines in the West. A regular arts commentator on RTHK Radio 4, he is the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!...the Making of The Bonesetter’s Daughter Opera. Two collections of his writings about music have been published by Beijing Normal University Press.


Peter Gordon is editor of the Asian Review of Books. He writes on opera for the local press, gives regular pre-performance opera talks as well as for the Dante Alighieri Society and supplies programme notes and translated subtitles for local performances (moderator). 




In collaboration with
Asian Review of Books
Bellissima Italia
Opera Hong Kong

Event Details

Thu 16 Mar 2017
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
Buy Tickets
$200 Asia Society members/ Dante Alighieri Society members/ Harvard Club of Hong Kong/ Friends of Solomusica; $350 Non-members
Add to Calendar 20170316T110000 20170316T123000 UTC Asia Society: Does Western Opera Matter in Hong Kong and Beyond? Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty