Opera "Wilderness": a story of love and revenge


Opera "Wilderness": a story of love and revenge

Today's presentation will be dedicated to be of the most influential operas in the history of Chinese classical music. Prepare to read the report by Peng Yongqin, a student of the School of Art Theory and Management at Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

Hello everyone!

I am a senior student in the Art History class at Sichuan Conservatory of Music. Today I am going to share with you the Chinese folk opera "Wilderness". My sharing will be roughly divided into 4 parts: 1. a brief introduction to the opera, 2. an appreciation of the excerpts, 3. the reasons why the opera "The Original Wilderness" made a hit, and 4. the reasons why I love this opera.

Let's start with a look at the opera itself!

The Wilderness is well known in China and around the world as "one of the most important events in the history of opera in the 20th century" and "the first time that a Chinese song knocked on the door of a Western opera palace". It is based on Mr. Cao Yu's play of the same name, The Wilderness. Composed in 1986, it was premiered by the China Opera and Dance Theatre at Beijing's Tianqiao Theatre in 1987 before touring several times in China and then worldwide since 1991. It was revived in Tianjin in 2017. Since the development of Chinese opera beginning in the 1820s, the creation of Chinese opera has gradually entered a mature stage and has also hit a bottleneck. It was against this creative backdrop that the opera "The Wilderness" was a cultural breakthrough, learning the language of Western music while retaining Chinese national characteristics.

In the opera, the main characters are Qiu Hu, Jin Zi, Jiao Daxing and Jiao's mother. The remaining two characters, Master Chang Wu and Bai Fool, mainly play the role of driving the plot, and their relationship diagrams have been shown in the PPT.

The opera is an opera in four acts.

Summarized in one sentence, it's about young peasant Qiu Hu's revenge and love. Act I, Lost, Qiu Hu escapes from prison and discovers that his enemy, Jiao Yan Wang, is dead and he has no one to avenge himself. At the same time, he discovers that his lover is married to Jiao Yan Wang's son, Jiao Da Xing. In the second act, love, Qiu Hu renews his old love for Jinzi, which is discovered by Jiao's mother. In the third act, revenge, Qiu Hu finally kills Jiao Da Xing, and by the hand of Jiao's mother, he kills Da Xing's son Xiao Heizi. In the fourth act, Qiu Hu escapes with Jinzi but loses his way in the darkness of the forest, and is willing to sacrifice himself to cover her escape. The whole opera is interwoven around the themes of "wilderness" and "love".

There must be a number of reasons for the success of The Wilderness, but I think there are two important ones.

One is that the opera has a selection of impressive music, which is important for the public to accept and appreciate the opera. The second reason, more importantly, is that the opera not only draws on many Western artistic expressions, such as American singing, repertory singing and orchestras, but also retains traditional Chinese folk instrumental music, adapting the singing to Chinese opera and Chinese pronunciation, ultimately achieving the effect of conveying the national idea and spirit.

Finally, I would like to share with you my reasons for choosing this opera.

Firstly, this opera has played an important role in the history of Chinese music, especially in the future direction of Chinese folk opera creation - how do we make use of the world's best methods of artistic creation and expression?  Secondly, I really liked the way the opera portrayed the characters' personalities. For example, the female lead in the opera, Jinzi, asks Qiu Hu to take her to escape after meeting him, but in the original version of the play it was Qiu Hu who first offered to take Jinzi away.

This is a very minor detail. This detail, together with the music and choreography, portrays a woman who, although not sufficiently confrontational, "has a sense of resistance and seeks freedom", which enriches the image of Jinzi from that of an ordinary rural woman. Apart from Jinzi, the other characters in the opera are typical, original and unique.

That's all I want to share, thank you!

< back

All News ...