Le French May Arts Festival

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As Le French May Arts Festival returns for its 21st edition, Li Meng de Bakker picks out 10 of the programme highlights.


1 Napoleon and the Decorative Arts
Art
Macau Museum of Art. Thu Apr 18-Sun Jul 14.
Everyone knows that Napoleon was an important man in terms of world history. But far fewer know the French emperor was a stylish little chap as well. In this joint collaboration between the Mobilier National and the Macao Museum of Art, palatial furniture, clocks, tapestries and other decorative items from Bonaparte’s rule are on display, showcasing the majesty and ornate taste of the 19th century French empire and its enigmatic leader.

2 Danger
Electro
W Hotel, Great Room. Sat Apr 20.
Danger is one of the newest major talents to emerge on to the French scene, earning fans with his hard-hitting, futuristic sound. Performing live with an ominous get-up (two glowing eyes peering through a full-faced mask), the graphic designer-turned-DJ creates an encompassing, otherworldly experience through music and lighting that’s sure to drag you kicking and screaming into the future.

3 Poulenc in Paris
Classical music
Cultural Centre, Concert Hall. Mon Apr 22.
Francis Poulenc was one the great French neo-classical composers, and in this concert, as part of
LFM’s Back to the 1920’s series, the City Chamber Orchestra celebrates his keyboard concerti. His organ, piano and harpsichord concertos are all on the programme, performed by renowned names like Eric La Sage and Jean-Patrice Brosse.

4 Jean Cocteau
Art
City Hall, Exhibition Hall. Sat May 4-Sun Jun 9.
Jean Cocteau, a luminary of the 20th century, is revered in almost every artistic medium, from filmmaking to poetry and visual art. This May, illustrations, drawings and paintings from the great man are put into context in an exhibition that also includes works by his contemporaries – including Picasso and Matisse – who were inspired by him.

5 Manceau
Rock
Hidden Agenda. Sat May 4.
Manceau sticks to the basics when it comes to the band’s special blend of soul-pop. The feel-good outfit’s music is irresistibly catchy and comes with a healthy dash of humour and cynicism. Working with piano, guitar and vocals from the ground up, this French group of four – who perform songs in English too – released their debut album, Life Traffic Jam, last year.

6 Edith Piaf, Intimate Moments
Theatre
HKAPA, Jockey Club Amphitheatre. Sun May 5.
For a bit of history, romance and star power all rolled into one, check out Edith Piaf, Intimate Moments, a play inspired by and containing excerpts from love letters written by the iconic French singer. Brought to life by a French star in her own right, actress Clotilde Courau, the timely performance comes on the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death.

7 Auguste Rodin
Art
de Sarthe Gallery. Thu May 16-Sat Jun 22.
Selected works in bronze, including the famous Le Penseur (The Thinker) from seminal French sculptor Auguste Rodin, are on display at de Sarthe Gallery, offering the Hong Kong public a chance to experience first-hand the pieces that influenced modern art well into the 20th century.

8 The Tales of Hoffman
Opera
Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre. Thu May 23-Sat May 25.
Jacques Offenbach’s magnum opus, the opéra fantastique The Tales of Hoffman follows the ill-fated Hoffman through three star-crossed love affairs. Along the way, disguise, comedy, magic and tragedy strike with all the musical flair and emotion of the late-Romantic period in this production by the esteemed Opéra de Monte-Carlo.

9 Yo Gee Ti
Dance
Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre. Thu May 30-Fri May 31.
Choreographer Mourad Merzouki, known for blending different cultures into hip-hop, leads the French-Algerian Käfig Dance Company in presenting Yo Gee Ti, produced in collaboration with Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Centre. With dynamic costumes and stage installations incorporating flowing wool, the show is a contemporary triumph that reflects the growing intercultural exchanges taking place in dance and other art forms.

10 Les Tambours du Bronx
Rock
Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre. Sat 1 Jun.
After sharing their beats with the world for more than a quarter of a century – and in such exotic locales as the Sahara Desert – Les Tambours du Bronx comes to Hong Kong for the first time. And, if you weren’t sure, that means: 17 hunky men, dozens of drums, jaw-dropping synchronisation and music with enough energy to set the stage
on fire.

Le French May 2013 runs from Wed Apr 17-Sun Jun 23. For the complete programme, visit frenchmay.com.

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