The Hong Kong Cultural Centre with its distinctive “ski slope” roof is spectacularly located on the Kowloon peninsula. With its large open plaza, historic clock tower, harbourside walkways and stunning views back across the water to Hong Kong Island, it is one of Hong Kong’s must-see tourist sites.

It is Wednesday January 17 and hundreds of people are milling around enjoying the sights in glorious sunshine. Though many of the visitors will know little or nothing about Götterdämmerung, the fourth and final opera in Wagner’s Ringcycle, they will be aware that the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is about to perform it in concert.

Jaap van Zweden Jaap van Zweden with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and singers at the end of the first performance of Götterdämmerung. Photograph © Ramond Ho

An enormous poster featuring the orchestra’s Music Director, Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden, covers three of the enormous pillars at the base of the building. Inside, giant banners for the production hang from the balconies in the spacious atrium, while the poster, with its drawing by English illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939), decorates the steps of the staircase up to the Concert...