East meets West in Chinese opera Mulan

08:09, June 29, 2010      

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Tan Jing as Mulan, on stage in Poems of Mulan.
The Chineseproduction of ancient opera Poems of Mulan, which has won widespread recognition abroad, will return to Beijing Thursday to kick off its 2010 tour with a one-night-only show at the Great Hall of the People to mark the 89th anniversary of the Communist Party of China.

Created and performed by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Performing Arts Troupe, Poems of Mulan, based on the well-known Chinese folk tale heroine Mulan who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her ailing father in the army, the work has traveled the globe, including performances at New York's Lincoln Center in 2005 and Vienna's National Opera House in 2008.

"Mulan is not a traditional Chinese opera nor a direct adoption of Western opera," Guan Xia, composer of the show and president of China National Symphony Orchestra, told the Global Times.

Integrating symphony, Western opera, musical theater, drama and dance with Chinese folk music, folk tales and traditional costumes, Poems of Mulan, according to Guan, is a successful blend of East and West, enabling a Chinese opera production to find success on the international stage.

Audiences will see actors and dancers in ancient-style costumes performing on the same stage with a modern orchestra dressed in Western suits, in front of a huge LCD screen showing different scenes, according to Guan.

Like the previous performances abroad, English subtitles will be shown on the screen to help foreign audiences better understand the story, Guan added.

"Language will not be a problem anyway. All the elements, such as Mulan's softness and braveness, the cruelty of war and the beauty of peace, will all be presented through music and performance," soprano Lei Jia, 31, who plays the title role of Mulan, told the Global Times. "I believe there is no aesthetic gap between audiences."

During the Beijing performance, Lei will share her role of Mulan with Tan Jing. Renowned tenors Yu Shuang and Sun Xuexiang will also divide the role of General Liu Shuang, the hero.

"We split the roles of Mulan and General Liu to offer young performers more chances to be on stage for the show," veteran singer Jiang Lina, who plays Mulan's mother, told the Global Times.

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