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Dutiful daughter steps out

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-09 07:31
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Liao and Lei in a rehearsal at the NCPA for the Chinese opera, Daughter of the Party, in June.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The National Center for the Performing Arts' production of a classic revolution-themed Chinese opera is set to hit the stage and win over a new audience, Chen Nan reports.

In 1991, a Chinese opera premiered in Beijing to a warm reception from both audiences and critics alike. Produced by the Opera Troupe of the General Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the opera, titled Daughter of the Party, based on the 1958 movie of the same name, tells the story of Tian Yumei, a Party member who devoted her life to protect guerrilla soldiers during the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927-37).

With a star-studded creative team, including songwriters Yan Su, He Dongjiu, Wang Zujie and Zhang Zhuoya, the opera, featuring former soprano Peng Liyuan in the leading role, won a number of awards, including the Wenhua Award in 1992, a top national accolade for the performing arts. Since then, it has become a classic Chinese opera, having been staged over 600 times nationwide.

Thirty years after its premiere, the opera will again be restaged, this time produced by the National Center for the Performing Arts. From Tuesday to Sunday, the opera will be performed, featuring a cast of veteran singers that includes soprano Lei Jia playing the lead role of Tian.

According to Zhao Tiechun, vice-president of the NCPA, the restaging of this classic opera is part of the venue's programs to celebrate the centenary of the Communist Party of China.

Wang Jun, who codirected the original version of the opera in 1990, will direct this latest iteration for the NCPA.

"It was an unforgettable experience for me, who, at the time, had just graduated from the Central Academy of Drama and began to work with the Opera Troupe of the General Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army," recalls Wang, who later worked as an actor, and then directed a number of successful movies and TV dramas, such as Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace and A Little Reunion.

"I worked on the opera along with other veteran Chinese artists from its very beginning. I didn't expect that I would get the opportunity to direct the opera again 30 years later.

"When I sat in the rehearsal room of the NCPA, many memories of working on that original production came flooding back," says Wang.

"Thirty years ago, we conducted our rehearsals in a small studio near Xinjiekou, in Beijing's downtown area. All of the creative members were devoted and passionate about the opera. I toured with the opera for over 90 performances, so I know every detailed part of it."

A challenge for Wang and the creative team working on the new production of the classic opera is that the audience is familiar about the story and the songs.

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