Monday, November 3, 2008

Chinese Opera To Perform In City

2 Nov 2008 ( Kolkata , Sunday , page 3 )
Subhro Niyogi, TNN

Zhejiang Peking Opera, which has enthralled audiences worldwide with classical plays like Red Lantern, Sha Jia Bang and The Harbour, will perform a power-packed play in the city in early December.

The programme will be jointly hosted by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Indian Chinese Association (ICA).

"It is the biggest Chinese event to be organised in the city. There’s a lot of excitement in both Tiretti Bazar and Tangra, where most of Kolkata’s Chinese live. We are proud to bring to Kolkata an opera that enjoys the status of national treasure in China," said ICA president Paul Chung.

This traditional form of Chinese theatre, combining music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics developed in eastern China’s Zhejiang province in the late 18th century. Though it was banned during the cultural revolution (1966-1976), it was revived thereafter and came into its own after the amalgamation with Zhejiang Kulnqu Opera Company in February 1994. Since then, the troupe has received critical acclaim across the world. Chung, who is a keen music enthusiast and knew about the opera, seized the opportunity when he learnt that the famous troupe was scheduled to perform at the World Theatre Festival in Kochi.

"A year ago, mayor Bikash Bhattacharya had expressed interest in hosting Chinese cultural events and asked us to get performing artistes. I was not too expectant since we are a small organisation. Then, this opportunity came by. I contacted the Chinese consulate and the troupe responded enthusiastically," Chung recalled. While the troupe is best known for its classical plays, it has decided to stage The Monkey King, an action musical with combat movements, to reach out to an audience that doesn’t have much exposure to opera. "What also influenced the choice of the play was the Indian concept of Hanuman, the monkey god. The troupe felt the association would help people identify with the play," Chung explained.

The play could star the winner of the Plum Blossom Prize, China’s highest award for stage performance, Weng Guosheng. He is expected to land in Kolkata with 16 other troupe members on December 6. The performance at Rabindra Sadan is slated the next evening.

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