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March 11, 2012

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Chinese opera festival features innovative lineup

THE annual monthlong festival of traditional Chinese opera at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center is expected to give old classics a youthful makeover and offer the city's opera lovers new perspectives on famous stories.

The festival started on Friday and ends on April 15. It features 12 performances of classics and modern innovations and experiments covering Peking Opera, Kunqu Opera, Yueju Opera and Huangmei Opera.

Well-known performers from major opera houses such as Wang Peiyu, Cai Zhengren and Zhang Jingxian will bring their latest works to the festival. The performances include Peking Opera "The Legend of Xiao He," Kunqu Opera "The Palace of Eternal Youth" and Huangmei Opera "Thunderstorm."

A highlight of the festival will be two innovative performances by Wang, a female artist of the Yu School. Known for her deep and mellow voice, Wang is one of the most prominent sheng (male) actors in Peking Opera.

On March 15, "The Orphan of Zhao," which is adapted from Peking Opera master Ma Lianliang's script in 1960, will be presented. The two-hour show tells the story of generations of revenge spurred by a rivalry between a general and an aristocratic family in ancient China.

Wang is the lead performer and producer of the show. She will combine typical Yu school vocals with the Ma school performing style which is natural and humorous.

On March 16, Wang will collaborate with noted music producer Liang Jianfeng on a special Peking Opera singing concert. Wang will sing and interpret classic excerpts of Yu school in a casual style and introduce basic knowledge of Peking Opera to the audience. Some episodes of the concert will be accompanied by a guitar.

"I think real art is always beyond time and space," Wang says. "I don't want to make too many changes to basic performing styles of Peking Opera, but I am trying to include innovative elements on stage so that the art form will be more accessible to the younger generation."

Mao Weitao, a famous female artist from Zhejiang Xiaobaihua Yueju Opera House, will stage the troupe's representative work "The Family of Book Collectors" (March 13). It depicts the determination of generations of Chinese book collectors.

"The new version will have more stunning lighting and stage effects, and in-depth portrayal of the characters," Mao says.

A solo show by Pei Yanling, winner of the Plum Blossom Award (China's top award for regional opera players) three times, will be staged on April 15 to close the festival. Pei will showcase her versatility in Chinese operatic arts and fabulous martial arts skills at the show featuring elements from Kunqu, Peking and Hebei operas.

Tickets will be priced from 60 yuan (US$8.80) to 420 yuan.

For more details, call 6854-1234.


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