The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

UPDATED: July 24, 2009 NO. 30 JULY 30, 2009
Virtuoso's Delight
Beijing's first opera festival stokes interest in the performing art

"To play Cavaradossi in Tosca is the dream of all tenors in the world. Now I'm in my 40s, which is the golden age to play the role because both my voice and apperception to the music are in the best condition. I am confident that I will make Chinese audiences fall in love with the opera," Dai said to Beijing media at a press conference on April 10.

Puccini's classic four-act opera, La Boheme, was also remade for the festival. The romantic tragedy of poet Rodolfo and the beautiful Mimi feature many songs that were melodious and classic, having been sung for over a hundred years.

Famous Chinese conductor Lu Jia and director Chen Xinyi have jointly performed La Boheme in a Chinese style. Both Chinese and Italian singers starred in the show.

"In this new version of the opera, the director has put the emphasis on the characters and plots," said Deng Yijiang, Vice President of the NCPA, to Xinhua News Agency. "We can see all the acting performed in a very casual way. In most operas, performers just stand on the stage and sing. But this time, they can sit on chairs and use more body language."

The production team boldly set the story in the contemporary artists' center, 798 Art Zone. The big warehouses and industrial buildings of the art zone were included in the stage setting, bringing a modern flavor to the classical opera.

Besides the opera performances on the stage, there were many other activities held at the same time aimed at helping opera fans appreciate the art form's charm from various perspectives.

"We thought a lot about how to utilize this opportunity. There are hundreds of opera festivals around the world, but the one here in Beijing is different," said Chen Zuohuang, director of the festival, at a February 18 press conference. "We will extend activities outside the performance halls. We will invite more than 100 professionals to give lectures in universities and factories. We also will hold an on-going exhibition about the development of this art form."

During the exhibition, visitors were able to learn about opera and view the glamorous costumes and posters from world-renowned performances. They could also listen to opera pieces through an advanced sound system.

Performers from professional troupes and art college students sang classical arias and explained the background and characters of several operas, offering an artistic and cultural tour to the public.

Record appreciation events, opera-lover's salons and opera-themed lectures held by famous opera singers, conductors and music critics were opened to the public. During the events, organizers hoped to spread the knowledge of opera and allow the audience to interact with artists. More than 100 professionals gave lectures in universities and institutions in Beijing, Shanghai and Hainan Province.

Opera development in China

Originating in 16th century Italy, opera was introduced to China in the early 20th century. Chinese opera reached its peak in the 1960s, after 1945's seminal The White-Haired Girl paved the way for the development of the country's own opera style. Chinese opera was based on real life stories and drew heavily from local folk melodies from Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei provinces. The revolutionary theme was later built upon by popular operas such as Red Guard of the Honghu Lake (1958), Liu Sanjie (1960), Red Coral (1961) and Sister Jiang (1964).

SHINING AT NIGHT: The National Center for the Performing Arts, situated in downtown Beijing, held the first opera festival from April 16 to July 2, which lasted for 79 days (XING GUANGLI)

However, the development of this art form slowed down in the 1980s as television, modern music and other entertainment began to capture the audiences' imagination, changing their aesthetic preferences and expectations.

"Now, when Chinese original operas are mentioned, what we can list are still these operas," said Huang Dingshan, head of the Opera Troupe of the People's Liberation Army General Political Department, to Beijing Times. "Some of them are also being presented on the stage of this opera festival, but obviously these military- and revolution-themed operas are out of date and face the challenge of raising their aesthetic level and incorporating modern issues."

   Previous   1   2   3   Next  

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved