Hangzhou has seen cultural prosperity grow together with the development of the economy and its society. To meet residents’ need for cultural facilities, Hangzhou has built a series of landmarks such as the Hangzhou Grand Theatre, Redstar Theatre, Han Meilin Art Gallery, West Lake Museum, and China's Chess Academy. Cultural projects such as the West Lake Cultural Plaza and Canal Square are also under construction, perfectly merging culture with the beautiful scenery of West Lake and Qiantang River nearby.
Since 2004, Redstar Theater has held an annual festival called “Access to Music.” Each year this presents a different theme, highlighting folk music, classical music, as wel as performances by masters such as violinist Yu Lina and erhu maestros Min Huifen and Shi Shucheng. Audiences have flocked to master performances organized by the China Philharmonic Orchestra. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Yue Opera, a kind of opera popular in Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province, the theatre staged Yue Opera shows every weekend in 2006.
As mentioned above, Zhejiang Province is the hometown of Yue Opera, which is favored by Hangzhou people. Hangzhou Opera Troupe and Xiaobaihua Shaoxing Opera Troupe are at the forefront of city opera troupes in this genre.
The Hangzhou Symphony Orchestra, set up in December 2007, is the city’s first philharmonic orchestra. Already established as a famous conductor, Yu Long, chief art director of the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra was appointed director of the preparatory committee. Shui Lan, musical director of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and a conductor born in Hangzhou, was appointed art consultant together with Zhang Jianyi, a singer who made his fame in Hangzhou and now lives in the United States.
At the end of 2007, Hangzhou people listened to a high-quality New-Year concert in Hangzhou’s Grand Theatre beside Qiantang Lake. Since then, performances in Hangzhou have been greatly developed to include both traditional Chinese favorites and foreign classics. To build the orchestra into a professional one with well-equipped performing facilities, the orchestra performs at least 80 times each year. The Hangzhou government also gives the orchestra a subsidy of 13 million yuan each year to help to build it into one of China's leading orchestras.
Founded in 1959, Hangzhou Song and Dance Theatre has promoted plays which fully embody the essence of the city’s culture and humanity.
"Impression West Lake" and the "Romance of the Song Dynasty" are the top drawcards for literature and art lovers. “Impression West Lake” is directed by famous film director Zhang Yimou, Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue, who were directors of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. During its two-year run of performances, “Impression West Lake” has become a symbol of the lake’s scenery and culture. “The Romance of the Song Dynasty” is an indoor, panoramic-style, large-scale performance based on Hangzhou’s history and mythology. It perfectly mixes singing, dancing and acrobatics together, weaving high-tech effects into a spectacular performance. This performance is funded completely by Songcheng Holdings, a private cultural enterprise, without government funding. During its consecutive performance of 12 years, the “Romance of the Song Dynasty” has achieved an annual revenue of 182 million yuan and become a brand name in Hangzhou.
Moreover, cultural plazas all over Hangzhou have also become platforms for interactive entertainment performances, featuring activities such as concerts, operas, folk arts and acrobatics held every weekend. They have always won warm applause from residents.
Yellow Dragon Cave is a good choice for people who are tired of the hustle and bustle of city life and want to calm down with relaxing Yue Opera and other popular performances. The amateur Yellow Dragon Yue Opera Troupe appears there with some famous performers.
In addition to Yellow Dragon Cave , West Lake and Wushan Square in Hangzhou are also hubs for opera lovers at sunset.