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Art reflecting Chinese core values wins critical acclaim

Updated: 2021-10-15 10:46 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Stage works

1. The Eternal Wave

A stage still from the dance drama The Eternal Wave, a remake of a classic 1950s film. [Photo/ shgwt.com.cn]

The dance drama The Eternal Wave is adapted from a classic 1950s film. Set in the late 1930s, the story centers on a Communist intelligence officer who disguises himself as a businessman to secretly establish an underground radio station in Japanese-occupied Shanghai.

The tale is based on the true story of Li Bai, a secret agent from Hunan province who played a pivotal role in the battle of Communist intelligence agents against the invading Japanese and Kuomintang forces. He was arrested and tortured by the Kuomintang in 1948 and killed in 1949.

Once the dance drama came out in Shanghai, it immediately received a strong response from audiences. With its romantic depiction of Shanghai culture, it has not only won many awards, but also hit big at the box office. The drama is thought to have reached new heights in Chinese original dance dramas.

The drama won the 16th Wenhua Award, a triennial award established by the Culture and Tourism Ministry to honor outstanding stage performances.

2. The White-haired Girl

Poster of the opera The White-haired Girl. [Photo/cnoddt.com]

The opera The White-haired Girl is based on a legendary Chinese folk tale. The heroine, Xi'er, is the daughter of Yang Bailao, a poor old tenant farmer.

Under the persecution of landlord Huang Shiren, Xi'er was forced to separate from her sweetheart Dachun. Hiding in a cave, Xi'er suffered great sorrow and her hair turned white.

Later, the Communist Party launched a people's war against the oppression of landlords. Huang Shiren was eradicated, and the "white-haired girl" saved. She returned to Dachun and got married, and her hair turned from white to black again.

In 1945, The White-haired Girl premiered in Yan'an, a revolutionary base in northwest China, causing a sensation. On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism revived the classical opera, and it was performed by the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater in 2021.

The new version combined characteristics of the times and features of the actors and actresses, so the opera can meet the aesthetic needs of a modern audience.

3. The Fairy Tale of the White Snake

A stage still from the Cantonese opera, The Fairy Tale of the White Snake.[Photo/ gdyjy.com]

The Cantonese opera The Fairy Tale of the White Snake showcases the beautiful fantasy world of China's White Snake myth in a modernized way, leaving audiences in awe of Chinese traditional opera culture.

This version is a little different from the traditional telling. Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian were originally a pair of lotuses who were deeply in love in front of the Buddha. After an accident, Xu became a human being and Bai became a white snake. After several reincarnations, Xu Xian forgot the past, but the White Snake still remembered. Eventually, she became a human being after thousands of years of cultivation, and went to the human world to pursue Xu Xian and continue their love.

However, such love was opposed by Fahai, a Buddhist monk in Jinshan Temple, who maintained coexistence of humans and evil spirits was unacceptable. He planned to reveal Bai's true body after drinking wine on the Dragon Boat Festival, which shocked Xu Xian and made him sick. After many tribulations, Bai found a way to save Xu and cement their love millennia in the making.

With the traditional story as its foundation, the modern opera has greatly innovated on the original, giving people an entirely new experience.

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