Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Qiuzi @ Edfringe 2015

 

Based on the theatre play of the same story written by Chen Ding, Qiuzi the opera was created in 1941 with lyrics by Zang Yunyuan and Li Jia and music by Huang Yuanluo. Despite living under the threat of Japanese invasion during World War II, the writers of Qiuzi, with their sympathetic portrayal of the young but doomed Japanese couple, produced a sensitive, fair and courageous, anti-war script with exceptional style and honesty. 


Revealing the cruelty and violence suffered by the casualties of war, the tragedy demonstrates that war and extreme nationalism are the true causes of great crimes. The premier in 1942 was shown in Guotai Theatre in Chongqing, the pre-communism capital of China. In the following four years, Qiuzi was performed 52 times to broad popular acclaim all over China.


August 26th – 29th, 4.30pm – 6pm
Greenside @ 25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9BX (Venue 209) Ticket: £5, Concession/Family £4


Producer: Zhou Jianming (周建明)
Artistic Director: Ju Qihong (居其宏)
Playwright: Chen Ding (陈定)
Composer: Huang Yuanluo (黄源洛)
Orchestration: Cui Xin (崔新)
Director: Qian Tai (钱态)
Conductor: Julian Zhilian Shew (徐志廉)

Leading roles:

Qiuzi (Akiko): Cao Lin (A) Fan Zhenxuan (B) (曹琳 [A] 范真旋 [B])
Gongyi (Miya Takeshi): Li Wei (李玮)
The Commander (Taisa): Hou Wei (侯蔚)

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a
script or an object?
Mr. Zhou Jianming(Head of Music Department of Nanjing University of the Arts, which is the largest and most historic arts university in China): I was inspired by the tragic nature of this real life story. It is a Chinese ‘Romeo and Juliette’, set during the Sino- Japanese War of 1938 in China. Qiuzi, having premiered in 1942, vanished from the stage and public consciousness due to Mao Tse-Tung’s Cultural Revolution, so personally, it was an opportunity for me to restore this story to today’s young public.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The Fringe is famous for its creativity, diversity and international openness, so it would provide the ideal setting to stage our opera Qiuzi, with its anti-war message and sentiments of tolerance and forgiveness. To present it at Edinburgh Fringe 2015 on the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II, gives it even a great resonance.

What can the audience expect to see and feel – or even think – of your production?
A wonderful, emotional production by a young and talented group of student performers, who are hugely excited to exhibit their acting and singing skills to such a knowing and knowledgeable international audiences here in Edinburgh. 

The story of Qiuzi is quite different from the traditional way of showing the history of WWII in China, where Japanese soldiers are always the villains and the Chinese are poor victims. The writers of Qiuzi, despite living under the threat of Japanese invasion during World War II, with their sympathetic portrayal of the young but doomed Japanese couple, produced a sensitive, fair and courageous, anti-war script with exceptional style and honesty. 

Revealing the cruelty and violence suffered by the casualties of war, the tragedy demonstrates that war and extreme nationalism are the true causes of great crimes.





The Dramaturgy Questions

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work – have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
Qiuzi as the first opera written in the form of Western grand opera, which means it is quite different from the traditional Chinese operas such as the Peking Opera. Key tunes such as Recitativo and Aria are very well written, though composed by local musicians. Yet it doesn't mean that Qiuzi is completely developed outside the soil of Chinese art. We have actually carried forward the tradition in the creation of Qiuzi.





Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe – where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
As I said, Qiuzi was inspired by a true tragedy of a Japanese couple during the Sino- Japanese War of 1938 in China. Based on the theatre play of the same story written by Chen Ding, Qiuzi the opera was created in 1941 with lyrics by Zang Yunyuan and Li Jia and music by Huang Yuanluo. Though as popular as it was, Qiuzi disappeared from public view due to China’s Cultural Revolution. However, as China has ‘opened up’, we got the chance to re-imagine the opera in 2014.

We started the project with a meticulous walkthrough of the script we kept from more than 70 years ago. We kept the whole storylines in order to make it original. However in terms of the music, we could only recover sheets of 39 songs written in numbered notations, some of which could not be fully restored. Therefore, our musicians rewrote some of the original songs and added 5 new soprano songs, as well as a full composition of accompaniment.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
We hope that Qiuzi could shed a light on how the audience, especially those outside of China, understand and view this particular history of East Asia. 



Due to Mao Zedong’s cultural revolution, Qiuzi disappeared from public view. However, as China has ‘opened up’, by 2014, the artists and students from Nanjing University of the Arts, a hundred-year-old top-class arts institute in China, got the chance to re-imagine the opera and officially presented it to Chinese audiences on December 12th, 2014, one day before the China’s National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims. To show in Edinburgh Fringe 2015, Qiuzi also corresponds to the global anti-war appeal at the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II.

The opera will be in the format of a 90-minute concert, performed at Nicolson Square Theatre during Edinburgh Fringe. Though performed in Mandarin Chinese, English subtitles will be available during the show. Through this visiting performance during the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, the cast of Qiuzi wishes to enhance the cultural communications between China and the UK.

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