China

Let the world hear the aria of Baoyu -- English Opera Dream of the Red Chamber performs in Beijing by David Hwang

Photo of English opera Dream of the Red Chamber, Photograph by Luo Wei, Guang Ming Daily.

Photo of English opera Dream of the Red Chamber, Photograph by Luo Wei, Guang Ming Daily.

Dream of the Red Chamber is the pinnacle of Chinese literature. But in fact, not many people in the western world have ever heard of it. In a certain sense, this opera is following a grand opera tradition, which began with Puccini's Madame Butterfly and Turandot, by blending eastern and western cultures. Before the English opera Dream of the Red Chamber, when people talk about Chinese-themed opera, they always first think about Turandot and the music Jasmine in that opera. Of course, the DaGuanYuan (Grand View Garden) in the English opera Dream of the Red Chamber is very different from the imagined Oriental world in Puccini's operas.

"In the 19th century of the western world, artists put the Oriental elements from their imagination into their works that were dominated by western values," says the playwright, David Henry Hwang. "But in our work, at least, we treat Chinese and western culture equally. Our work is not a hodgepodge, but a music work with distinctive features."

In the past 30 years, at least two TV shows have been adapted from Dream of the Red Chamber. "The popularity of the 1987 version of Dream of the Red Chamber in China is like BBC’s 1996 version of Pride and Prejudice (in the western world). It's certainly not a bad thing to have people re-discuss the novel because of an opera, in that way many people who have never heard of it now know it.” Hwang said, "It is important to let the world hear the aria of Baoyu." 

Read more at Guang Ming Daily.

 

Dream of the Red Chamber kicks off China tour by David Hwang

Scene from the English language opera  Dream of the Red Chamber  Photo: Courtesy of Armstrong Music & Arts-ZEXI

Scene from the English language opera Dream of the Red Chamber Photo: Courtesy of Armstrong Music & Arts-ZEXI

The star-studded English language opera that enchanted San Francisco around this time last year, Dream of the Red Chamber, kicked off its Chinese mainland premiere in Beijing on Friday, returning to the city where the story was first written and published.

Based on the 18th century epic of the same name written by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) writer Cao Xueqin, the two-act opera was supported by the Minnesota-based Chinese Heritage Foundation and created by a group of prominent Chinese and Chinese-American artists, including MacArthur Fellow Bright Sheng as composer, Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang as co-librettist along with Sheng, Stan Lai as director and Oscar winner Tim Yip as costume and stage designer. 

Imported by the Hong Kong-based Armstrong Music & Arts and the Poly Theater to the Chinese mainland, the show will tour to Changsha and Wuhan, the capital cities of Central China's Hunan and Hubei provinces, over the next two weeks following Beijing.

Find out more at globaltimes.cn