Le French May Arts Festival, Hong Kong's annual celebration of French art in all its forms, is commemorating its silver jubilee. The lineup of exhibitions, films, music performances and dance shows this year is more exciting than ever, presenting the best of both French heritage and contemporary culture.
Here are 10 highlights during Le French May 2017 that you shouldn't miss:
The Birth of the Sun King
The opener is the world premier of what promises to be a spectacular mixed media re-enactment of Louis XIV’s lost masterpiece. Originally a 12-hour event, it was first commissioned to extol 15-year-old Louis’ transformation into the storied “Sun King”, setting the tone for his reign’s unrivalled artistic policy.
Based on the idea of a ballet within a ballet, the première was a sound success at the time, but the score was only partly transcribed and much of it was lost. Now, nearly 400 years later, the music has been meticulously reconstructed by Sébastien Daucé for Ensemble Correspondances.
8pm, May 6, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum
The headlining exhibition is a rare showcase of national masterpieces from the grand dame of museums—the Musée du Louvre. Seeking to exemplify the diversity of the museum’s collection, the exhibition features a selection of 126 works from various departments and time periods.
Highlights include the painting Saint Sebastian Bound for Martyrdom by Anthony van Dyck, shown outside of France for the first time; a statue of Jean de la Fontaine by famed sculptor Pierre Julien; and a fragment of a horse head statue from 500 BCE.
April 26-July 24, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
French Cinema programme: Celebration of the Arts
Le French May’s two-week cinema program is an ode to the arts and its French masters. The selection of 10 films includes biopics like Cezanne and I, Renoir, Seraphine and Van Gogh, giving audiences a glimpse into these great painters’ private lives while also paying tribute to lesser known artists.
The films feature some of the greatest figures in French Cinema, including Gérard Depardieu, Isabelle Huppert, Gérard Philippe and Anouk Aimé.
May 15-30, Broadway Cinematheque, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
A Golden Way of Life: Très’Ors
People have always been fascinated by gold, and A Golden Way of Life: Très’Ors is a celebration of the glimmering, seductive precious metal that has inspired countless artists and craftsmen throughout history.
Curated by Anne Camilli, founder of Le Musée à la Carte, the exhibition is a selection of over 150 gold pieces from public and private collections, including a curious mix of religious pieces, antique furniture, Boucheron jewels, and a specially commissioned portrait by artist–illustrator Hélène Tran.
End of April–September 3, MGM Art Space, MGM Macau, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Nape, Macau
Return to Beauty: Jacques Henri Lartigue and his world
French photography legend Jacques Henri Lartigue is known for capturing the esprit of early 20th century France and the joie de vivre of fashionable French high society during the Belle Époque.
Passionate, spontaneous and fun, Lartigue started taking photos at the age of six and amassed a genre-defining canon of work during his lifetime. The exhibition features a wide selection of photographs from the artist, including his famed depictions of automobile races, planes, Parisian models and celebrity friends.
May 4-July 31, F11 Foto Museum, 11 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Paris Ballet Legends: A Night with the Stars
Paris Ballet Legend is a tribute to Paris and the multitude of artists who were inspired by it. The ballet performance is a graceful ensemble of different stories: from the romantic Giselle to the contemporary Non je ne regrette rien, the classic Black Swan to the daring Carmen—but regardless of style, each piece has an intimate link to the City of Lights.
7.45pm, May 11-12, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Under the music direction of Mikko Franck, the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by a trio of young soloists to play Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, Debussy’s famous evocation of The Sea and Ravel’s musical retelling of traditional fairy tales in his Suite Mother Goose.
8pm, June 2, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Nicolas Buffe: The Dream of Polifilo
The interactive exhibition is an allegorical adventure following the literary character Polifilo, from Francesco Colonna’s 1499 novel Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Poliphilo's Strife of Love in a Dream).
Visitors journey through various rooms filled with Nicolas Buffe’s mural drawings and cut-out sculptures, combining pop culture and historical references with games, surprises and even a labyrinth along the way.
May 4-29, Exhibition Hall, Hong Kong City Hall, 5 Edinburgh Place, Central, Hong Kong
Paris Dark Light by Michel Setboun
Mysterious and poetic, Paris Lumière Noire (Paris Dark Light) is photographer Michel Setboun’s love letter to Paris. Playing with illumination and shadows, he takes the viewer on an intimate trip to the City of Lights and glamourizes the capital through the shroud of his lenses. You’ll see familiar arrondissements in a completely different light.
May 6-24, Atrium I and Corridor, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Louis Vuitton Time Capsule
The French luxury fashion house has picked Hong Kong as the first stop on its traveling Time Capsule exhibition, which looks back at innovations in technology and design throughout its history as well as traditional leatherwork techniques by French artisans.
Beginning in 1854 and continuing to the present day, the maison’s story is told through rare objects from the Louis Vuitton archive.
April 22-May 14, Statue Square Gardens, Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
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