The "Li Bai" Opera: a great poet


The "Li Bai" Opera: a great poet's life told to music

Just as you might think, Li Bai is the name of the main character of today's presentation. Li Bai is one of the greatest romantic poets in Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the golden age of Chinese poetry. His story will be told to you by Ge Xian, senior student at the School of Art Theory and Management of Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

Hi, everyone! I would like to share my favorite play with you guys today! It's called 'Li Bai'.

This nine-act play is the work of Guo Qihong. Guo Qihong chose to write a historical drama about Li Bai's life in his later years.

In the 750s, the An-Shi Rebellion shifted the Tang dynasty from prosperity to decline. Li Bai was full of patriotic zeal and joined Li Lin's army. Li Bai had high ambitions but failed to see through Li Lin's treachery that he wanted to be emperor himself. Later Li Lin was defeated and died. Li Bai was imprisoned in Xunyang for his crimes, then exiled to Yelang.

Arriving at Baidi Town, Li Bai was pardoned by the emperor, thanks to the guarantee of Guo Ziyi, the Marshal of the army. After all these things, Li Bai lived a life of seclusion. But the final battle to quell the rebellion aroused the poet's passion to serve his country, and he made a shocking decision: he'll enlist in the army at an advanced age. In the end, the poet Li Bai sat in a flat boat, drifting in the moonlight of the river, and passed away quietly. There are twists and turns, interspersed with sorrow and sadness.

What resonates with me most in this play is Li Bai's dilemma. Li Bai was faced with the dilemma of stepping in politics with passion but failed to deal with deceit or living in seclusion with inner torment. In brief, 'I can't go forward, and I'm unwilling to step back'. I'm sure we have this mentality at times. For instance, 'Should I love someone?' 'Should I manage to be somebody or accept that I'm just ordinary.' 'Should I fight, or should I settle?' Of course, there is more than one answer. People can find out from this play.

The scriptwriter Guo Qihong was born into a scholarly family and grew up reading poetry. In his own words, "Among the classical poets, I admire Li Bai the most, not only can I recite many of his poems, but I also admire his personality." He took a verse as his motto: 'How can I bow down to those powerful people, make me unhappy all day!"

However, as he discovered from his research later, the emperor did not take the great literati seriously. Li Bai compared himself to Zhuge Liang of Nanyang and Xie Anshi of Dongshan, but in fact he almost joined the rebellion. He hesitated before joining Li Lin, but then became a victim of their brother's struggle for power and was exiled to Yelang. After a period, Guo realized that this was the real Li Bai. Li Bai was not perfect. He was both superficially casual and substantively heavy. Eventually, he created the play.

Li Bai was staged at the Capital Theatre in 1991. The play was an instant hit, winning five China's highest awards in the professional stage arts, Wenhua Awards, for screenplay, director, stage design, acting and performance. The success of this play has firmly established its place in the history of Chinese drama, and it has been included as one of the classic reserved plays by the Beijing People's Art Theatre. In 2007, it was selected as one of China's "100-year classic" plays.

In 2019, the troupe of Beijing People's Art Theatre's classic drama Li Bai embarked on a journey to Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation, to participate in the "Europe-Russia-Asia International Theatre Festival" organized by the Kachalov Russian Model Theatre.

As China's most prestigious professional drama institute, developing for 60 years, the Beijing People's Art Theatre has formed distinctive style of play. With the accumulation of long-term artistic practice and aesthetic theory, it achieved the perfect fusion in terms of realism and nationalization, experience and embodiment and reappearance of the connotation of drama aesthetics, gradually forming the famous "Beijing People's Art Theatre"School.

It has always been the mission and pursuit of the Beijing People's Art Theatre to let the world see Chinese stories and appreciate the charm of Chinese culture, and it is believed that there will be more opportunities to share the beauty and power of such traditional Chinese culture with foreign audiences.

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