China National Opera House Performance: Farewell My Concubine
This is a Western-style adaptation of a famous Chinese opera. In addition to performances in Pasadena, the opera will be performed in San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York, Houston, and Dallas.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
1:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Pasadena Civic Auditorium
300 East Green Street
The Chinese classic opera, “Farewell My Concubine” has been completely reinterpreted to a Western-style opera with new music and new staging. This traditional opera has been completely updated to create a unique East meets West production. It premiered in Beijing (click here for Washington Post story about the performance) in October 2007 and is now on tour in the United States.
The producers describe the opera as emotional, romantic, heroic, sentimental, and tragic. The opera is based on events from the founding of imperial China 22 centuries ago. The story is well-known in China. The hero of the story, Xiang Yu , was the grandson of a general of State Chu. After his grandfather died on the battlefield when State Chu was conquered by State Qin, Xiang Yu , brave and skilful, led his 8,000 young soldiers to fight against State Qin. After five years of fighting, he defeated Qin troops and occupied Xianyang, the capital of State Qin. The Qin State thus fell.
Episode One - Xianyang on Fire
Xiang Yu enters Xianyang. To celebrate his victory and release his hatred for the Qin, he ordered the burning of all the Qin palaces. Proud and elegant, Xiang Yu called himself “Hegemon King of West Chu” and awarded those who had made meritorious deeds in war. Then he planed to return to State Chu.
Only one man had a clear mind. He was Han Xin, a general and also a sworn brother of Xiang Yu , who helped Xiang Yu in his expedition against the Qin. He worried while looking at the fires and celebrations. He tried to persuade Xiang Yu to think of danger in time of victory and create an eternal peace for the people of the country. Han Xin suggested that Xianyang be the capital and Xiang Yu could be a wise king after having his control of all the warlords. Xiang Yu was arrogant and didn't listen to Han Xin. He drew his sword and prepared to kill Han Xin. Just then, Xiang Yu 's favorite concubine Yu Ji broke in, shouting “Stop.” This shocked Xiang Yu and stopped the fight. Her love calmed down two raging hearts.
But Xiang Yu was determined to return home with honor and glory, so he insisted on taking the Qin captives and slaves with him. He ordered the execution of an old man which angered Han Xin. Han Xin left Xiang Yu.
Episode Two Ambush
Three years later, Han Xin had become the commander-in-chief of the troops of the Han State. He fought with Xiang Yu and defeated the Chu troops. Han Xin ambushed Xiang Yu's ten thousand troops by encircling them beside the Wu River.
Yu Shu, sister of Yu Ji, had followed Han Xin. She was anxious to save her sister from the Chu camp. She secretly went to the Chu camp to meet Yu Ji, but she refused to leave Xiang Yu. The sisters shed tears and parted.
Xiang Yu led his remaining 28 warriors in a last charge which failed miserably. At the riverside, though, the wounded Xiang Yu and Yu Ji could hear the songs of Chu.
Seeking to save Xiang Yu and Yu Ji, Han Xin dispatched a fishing boat to pick them up. Xiang Yu refused and sent the fisherman away. Yu Ji and Xiang Yu then committed suicide.
This production marks one of the rare times an original Chinese opera will be performed in the United States by a Chinese cast and sung in Mandarin.
Tel: (626) 449-7360
Sponsor(s): Chinese American Inter-Cultural Exchange Foundation, China National Opera House