What does war mean to women? What would they do on the battlefront? And what would they need after returning from war? Pioneering Chinese theater director Li Liuyi and acclaimed composer Guo Wenjing have created a contemporary trilogy of three women fighters' stories to explore a woman's life in war.
In June, the world premiere of the trilogy Chinese Heroines was widely acclaimed when it opened the Holland Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands. Now the Beijing Music Festival has invited it back to run at the Capital Theater tomorrow.
Each of the three heroines - Mu Guiying, Hua Mulan and Liang Hongyu - played an important role in Chinese history. In this trilogy, which is created in a style combining Western and traditional Chinese operas, they hold conversations with men who have played crucial roles in their lives.
In the first opera, Mu Guiying pursues her inner struggle between hate and desire during a purification ritual in the hours before a battle, recalling memories of her dead husband and his heroic ancestors. Mu and the male characters, including her dead husband, father-in-law and grandfather-in-law, are all played as lao sheng, the old man roles of Peking Opera.
The second character, Hua Mulan, will be more familiar to Western audiences, thanks to the Disney version of her tale. Hua, who dresses as a man to fight on behalf of her father and brother, returns to her parents after winning fame as a brave warrior. She returns home accompanied by her superior, an older general, and by the younger general with whom she has fallen in love.