Chinese classic opera in western style glitters on Washington stage

2008-01-26 00:14:59 Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Shortly after the epilogue was concluded, hundreds of people stood up and applauded for more than five minutes on Friday night, showing their appreciation to the first classic Chinese opera in the western style.

"Farewell My Concubine," composed by Chinese prominent musicians, Xiao Bai and Wang Jian, and presented by China's first-class National Opera House, was warmly embraced in Washington as much as it did in Beijing during its debut in October.

The story was very popular to Chinese audiences or Westerners who are familiar with Chinese history -- Xiang Yu, King of Chu, was defeated by Han King Liu Bang but refused to cross Wu Jiang river to run for life. He and his beloved concubine, Yu Ji, committed suicide for sake of honor.

As a pilot project, the opera was designed to be a hybrid of Chinese story, costumes, mandarin and Western music as well as English subtitles.

"I think it is a wonderful presentation, beautiful music and orchestra as well as strong voices," Florence Smoot, a convention organizer, told Xinhua, adding that she also enjoyed the story.

When asked the difference between Chinese and Western operas, she said that "Farewell My Concubine" is not about an individual but also "a people."

"Performing a Chinese love story through a western-styled theatre art is completely acceptable and welcomed by American audience in Los Angeles and San Francisco, including public, specialists and commentators," said Liu Xijin, general president of the China National Opera House.

Calling the six-city tour in American "ice-breaking," he said that it is the first time for a Chinese independent and all-inclusive opera house to perform a native-born masterpiece on the international stage.

"It shows Chinese artists are as professional, capable and well-trained in as Westerner performers opera, which can reveal a country's comprehensive cultural quality," he added.

The opera will move to New York and Texas' cities of Houston and Dallas later this month and early February.