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January 16, 2021

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Classic Chinese operas under the spotlight

A slew of classic Chinese operas will be staged at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center from March 20 to May 2.

In its 12th year, the Chinese opera series will present 19 performances, covering a wide range of theatrical storytelling forms, including Peking, Yueju, Huju, Kunqu, Huangmeixi and Pingtan operas.

The Chinese opera series has developed into a remarkable cultural and artistic brand at Shanghai Oriental Art Center since its inauguration in 2008. Many precocious young performers and celebrated artists, such as Shang Changrong, Pei Yanling, Mao Weitao and Tie Mei, have performed and showcased their considerable talent with the city’s audiences.

On March 20, Shanghai Peking Opera Company’s “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” will raise the curtain on this delightful operatic gala.

With lavish scenes set in northeast China, it tells the story of Yang Zirong, a reconnaissance soldier of the People’s Liberation Army, who disguised himself as a bandit to bring down a stronghold on Tiger Mountain in 1946 during the war of liberation (1946-49).

Veteran Peking Opera performer Fu Xiru, winner of the Plum Blossom Award — China’s top award for traditional opera artists, will portray Yang in the show. Although Fu has presented around 100 performances of the role nationwide, he is still touched by the wit and bravery of Yang in the face of danger.

Famous Peking Opera performer Shi Yihong will play the lead role in “The Azalea Mountain” as the closing ceremony performance, starting on April 25, to wrap up this year’s opera series at the center. Beautiful melodies and diverse vocals shall feature in the show. The story follows female CPC Party member Ke Xiang, who leads the peasant defense corps on Azalea Mountain during the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927. Shanghai Huju Opera Theater will put on two war operas “Sister Jiang” and “The Top Secret” on March 23 and March 31.

Mao Shanyu, director of Shanghai Huju Opera Theater, said “Sister Jiang,” a touching story featuring an undercover agent Jiang Zhujun fighting a battle of espionage against the enemy in Chongqing in 1948, will offer young performers a platform to showcase their talent.

Meanwhile, in an upgraded version of plot, acting and stage effects, “The Top Secret” reveals heroic Party members protecting a secret from their enemies in 1931. Pingtan artist Gao Bowen will debut a new version of “Blossoms” on April 11. Based on Shanghai writer Jin Yucheng’s novel of the same name, the Pingtan adaptation will be performed in both Suzhou and Shanghai dialects, which is a brand new concept for the Shanghai Pingtan Troupe.

Gao said the show will have six performers on stage and offer a new interpretation of the charm and spirit of Shanghai.

On April 21, Jiangsu Performing Arts Group will stage an original Kunqu Opera “Mei Lanfang.” The show will provide an insight into the early days of Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang, highlighting his successful debut show in Shanghai in 1913 at the age of 19.

Performances in the Chinese opera series will also include Shanghai farce “The Voice of Shanghai,” Yueju classics “A Dream of Red Mansions” and “Jade Dragonfly,” and Huangmeixi “Thunderstorm,” a modern adaptation of the 1934 play by Chinese dramatist Cao Yu (1910-96).

Click or call 021-6854-1234 for more performance information and to purchase tickets.


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