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Opera performances mark nation's founding

By LI MENG | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-29 08:42

Audiences in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were treated to performances this week marking the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, with shows by troupes including the China National Peking Opera Company and the National Ballet of China.

The onstage extravaganza, coinciding with this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, featured traditional and contemporary elements of both art forms.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the China National Peking Opera Company performed traditional pieces at the Grand Theater of the Hong Kong Cultural Center including Stabbing Bajie and Fan Jin Passed the Provincial Civil Service Examination, as well as the newly arranged Madame Anguo, a tribute to Liang Hongyu, a heroic female general during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Zhang Jianguo, the lead actor, reprised his performances in Fan Jin and Madame Anguo, as the China National Peking Opera Company added new dynamism to the imagery of the nation's historical legacy.

On Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, about 40 dancers from the National Ballet of China will perform an excerpt from Act II of La Sylphide at the Grand Theater of the Hong Kong Cultural Center and then showcase its interpretation of the contemporary Song of Life.

Ode to Yimeng Mountain has been part of the ballet's repertoire for decades. Xu Gang, ballet master for the national troupe, revised the piece into an original, three-movement ballet, Love for Yimeng.

"I set out to achieve a fusion between Chinese and Western dance styles, highlighting the connections between the two," Xu said.

The ballet tells the story of the women of Yimeng Mountain in Shandong province who helped wounded soldiers during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

Although the geographical and psychological distance between Yimeng villagers and the Hong Kong audience is considerable, the choreographer and the dancers were able to make the story resonate with art lovers.

"I feel touched and even get goose bumps every time I rehearse the piece," said Lu Na, the principal dancer who performed the lead role of Ming Deying.

The ballet's Hong Kong premiere will be a highlight after a five-month tour of cities on the Chinese mainland.

The performances by the China National Peking Opera Company and the National Ballet of China mark the 18th time the Ministry of Culture and Hong Kong-based China Cultural City Limited have worked together to produce large-scale cultural events during traditional Chinese holidays.

The author is a freelancer based in Hong Kong.

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