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Puppets, Pianists and Pirouettes: Nanjing’s Top Theatres and Concert Halls

By Harriet Petty , eChinacities.com Add your comment Newsletter

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With Nanjing as the base of operations for Jiangsu Performing Arts Group, it is no surprise that there are an abundance of regular theatre, opera, ballet and performing arts events in the city's numerous theatres and concert halls. Whether you're looking to experience the lyrical lament of a Beijing Opera Laodan, or enjoy an evening of ballet or orchestral virtuosity, Nanjing will deliver. The Arts Group is responsible for three of Nanjing's theatres (Nanjing Zijin Grand Theatre, Nanjing People's Theatre and Jiangnan Theatre) which host both Chinese and overseas productions.

In recent months, the Arts Group has also performed excerpts of Kunqu Opera on Nanjing's Metro system, and put on traditional puppet shows in Phoenix Bookstore on Hunan Lu, bringing these traditional Jiangsu art forms to the streets of Nanjing. However, if you don't fancy hanging around on the Underground at Xinjiekou, on the off-chance you'll bump into a heavily made-up, costume-laden Kunqu virtuoso, read on to find out what theatrical and musical wonders can be found in Nanjing's various theatres and concert halls.

Puppets, Pianists and Pirouettes: Nanjing’s Top Theatres and Concert Halls
Photo: bbs.voc.com.cn

1) Nanjing Zijin Grand Theatre View In Map
Having had my first experience of the intensely bizarre world of Beijing Opera (Jingju) at this theatre, I can confidently say that this is the place to go if you're in the mood for an authentic Chinese audio-visual feast. Run by the Jiangsu Performing Arts Group, the various productions are given beautiful stage sets and the staff here are more than willing to help a lost foreigner in the crowd. The theatre has ample, reasonably comfortable tiered seating on two levels and has recently hosted acrobatics, dance competitions, film screenings, regional variations of Chinese Opera and erhu concerts.

The set design, lighting and theatricality are professionally managed, resulting in tasteful and engaging shows, and the theatre draws large crowds for most performances. Although buying tickets can be confusing on the door, you can usually find tickets and venue information through the website http://piao.17u.cn. (Although, on arrival for the Beijing Opera the doorman took pity on our confused foreign faces and handed us free tickets five minutes before the show began… Perhaps best not to count on this as a regular occurrence though!) A word of warning, try not to be drawn in and ripped off by the numerous ticket touts milling around in front of the building on performance nights.

Add: 20 Xiaohuowa Xiang, Baixia District, Nanjing.
地址:南京市白下区小火瓦巷20号, 南京紫金大剧院
Tel: 025 8452 2015
Getting there: take bus No. 26, 27, 30, 34, 37, 46, 306, 313, 814 to Hubu Jie stop (户部街站)

2) Nanjing Great Hall and Jiangnan Theatre View In Map
The witty repartee of Chinese comedians and the storytelling techniques employed in Chinese theatre attracts locals to these two popular venues. While the merits of these performances may be lost on those of us who don't speak fluent Mandarin, Nanjing's Great Hall and Jiangnan Theatre also host a number of events that are more universally enjoyable. Piano recitals, dance troupes, orchestral performances and touring classical ballets feature at The Great Hall, while Jiangnan hosts the respected traditional Kunqu Opera and the odd touring overseas musician. Ticket prices vary greatly from as little as 30 RMB for a cheap seat to over 2000 RMB at the Great Hall for the more internationally renowned performances.

Add: 264 Changjiang Lu, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市玄武区长江路264号, 南京人民大会堂
Tel: 025 8440 0400
Getting there: take subway Line 2 to Dahanggong Station

3) Nanjing Arts and Culture Centre View In Map
Nanjing Arts and Culture Centre literally has everything you could ask for in one place: Take a leap and enrol in a painting, photography or calligraphy course in the training centre, peruse the current works on show in the exhibition hall, enjoy a solo violinists repertoire in the concert hall or discover a love for ballet in the Grand Theatre. And, if you've still got some energy, belt out your favourite 90's boy-band number in the centre's KTV after recuperating with a slap-up meal in the underground restaurant. For ticket and events information, head to the venue or visit its extensive website listed below.

Add: 101 Changjiang Lu, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市玄武区长江路101号, 南京文化艺术中心
Tel: 025 8479 7920
Website: http://www.njcac.cn
Getting there: take bus No. 27, 29, 60, 68, 163 to Changjiang Lu stop (长江路站)

4) Theatre of Sipailou Campus, Nanjing Southeast University View In Map
During Nanjing's annual International Jazz and World Music Festival in October, Nanjing's Southeast University invites audiences to enjoy performances by world musicians in this slightly dilapidated old theatre. For the rest of the year, you can occasionally catch student productions and concerts of various musical genres. (For access, enter the university campus from Taiping Bei Lu and continue straight to the small roundabout on which the theatre sits.)

Add: 2 Sipailou, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市玄武区四牌楼2号, 东南大学四牌楼校区
Tel: 025 8379 2888
Getting there: take bus No. 70, 140, 304 to Dongnan Daxue stop (东南大学)

5) Nanjing Arts Academy Concert Hall View In Map
Nanjing Arts Academy (also known as Nanjing University of the Arts or Nanjing Arts Institute) regularly invites the considerable talents of Chinese and overseas classical musicians to its concert hall. In addition, a programme of events showcasing students of the university and collaborations with overseas universities proffers the chance to see up-and-coming student talent in Nanjing. For event and ticket information contact the university directly. Enticingly, tickets are often cheap or free.

Add: 15 Huju Bei Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市鼓楼区虎踞北路15号,  南京艺术学院音乐厅
Tel: 025 8349 8249
Getting there: take bus No. 21, 24, 109, 132, 818 to Gulin Gongyuan stop (古林公园站)

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Keywords: theatres Nanjing performances and events nanjing fun activities nanjing concert halls nanjing

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