The China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) will present two new Peking opera productions at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, September 2 and 3, 2015. The two productions, Legend of the White Snake and The Jewelry Purse,will be performed by the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA) and will star the highly acclaimed Peking opera performer Zhang Huoding in her US debut. This engagement is the fifth production in an ongoing partnership between CAEG and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
Peking opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre, which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics. The roles on the Peking Opera stage fall into four categories: Sheng (a male role), Dan (a female role), Jing (a painted-face male role) and Chou (a comedic role). Zhang Huoding is a standout of the third-generation descendants of the Cheng School of Peking opera, founded by one of the greatest Dan performance masters, Cheng Yanqiu (1904-1958). With its opulent costumes, symbolic choreography and traditional music, Peking opera has become recognized as one of the cultural treasures of China.
Zhang Huoding is one of the most renowned and widely beloved contemporary Peking Opera performing artists. Her singing, acting and dancing possess the characters of the great China masters, and have garnered her tremendous admiration from audiences of all ages throughout China. Following her initial schooling, she entered the Tianjin Opera School. Upon graduation, she was admitted into the ZHANYOU Peking Opera Troupe in Beijing. In 1995, she transferred to the National Peking Opera Company. In 2007, she performed a solo concert of symphonic opera in the Great Hall of the People, becoming the first opera performer there. A year later she joined NACTA to work as a teacher. More information about Zhang Huoding is available at www.zhanghuoding.net/.
Said Mr. Wang Xiuqin, deputy director of China Arts and Entertainment Group, “We are thrilled to present these two new productions at the Koch Theater, and to introduce American audiences to both the art of Peking opera, and to the celebrated performer Zhang Huoding, who has captured the hearts of theatergoers throughout China.
Legend of the White Snake, written by Tian Han, is directed by Sun Yuanyi, with music direction by Wan Ruixing, scenic design by Liu Peng and Zhou Zhiqiang, and costume design by Zhang Xi’e. The Jewelry Purse, written by Weng Ouhong, is directed by Zhou Long, with music direction by Wan Ruixing, scenic design by Liu Peng and Zhou Zhiqiang, lighting design by Zhou Zhengping, and costume design by Zhang Xi’e and Liu Xiaoqing.
About Legend of the White Snake:
Written by Tian Han, considered to be one of the three founders of Chinese spoken drama, Legend of the White Snake is a fantastical story of Bai Suzhen, a snake fairy, who takes human form and falls in love with Xu Xian, who is unaware of Bai’s true self. It is a story of love, death, and acceptance that has been told in China for thousands of years. Of special note is the fact that the role of Bai Suzhen, normally played by two separate actors over the course of the performance because of its technical difficulty, will be performed solely by Zhang Huoding.
About The Jewelry Purse:
On the day that both are to be married, Xue Xiangling, a wealthy young woman, meets the poor Zhao Shouzhen and offers her a beautiful jewelry purse when she learns that Zhao’s family is too poor to provide a dowry. Several years later, after disaster strikes Xue, Zhao is able to repay the kind favor in this tale of compassion and the bonds of friendship.
Legend of the White Snake and The Jewelry Purse will be performed by a company of 35 opera performers and 14 musicians.
The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA) was founded in 1950 on the base of the Experimental School of Chinese Theatre Arts under the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Central Government. It eventually transformed into the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in 1978. NACTA is divided into eleven teaching sections: the Performing Arts, Drama Writing, Directing, Stage Arts, Music, Peking Opera, New Media Arts, International Cultural Communication, General Education, Continuing Education, and the High School of Chinese Theatre Arts. NACTA is the most important base for Chinese theatre arts education.
NACTA’s outstanding productions like Legend of the White Snake, Silver Spear, Yue Yun, Du Shiniang, Les Miserables, Scholar Zhang Xie, The Red Detachment of Women, The Three Women Ghosts, Long March Chorus, and Mei Lanfang, etc, have won many national and international awards including Nomination Prize of China National Fine Stage Arts Project, Prize of China National Excellent Repertoire, Music and Theatre Prize by the International Theatre Institute. Taking the responsibility of introducing Chinese theatre culture globally, NACTA has established good collaborative relationships with dozens of universities around the world. In November 2009, the first Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera was jointly formed by NACTA and Binghamton University. In addition, NACTA has also participated in many international arts festivals.
The China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG), the first large publicly-owned cultural enterprise, was inaugurated after the merger of the China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) and the China International Exhibition Agency, as a major step to transform Chinese culture and art institutions into modern enterprises. They are under the auspice of the Ministry of Culture. CAEG has built a national network covering the whole arts industry, and has become extremely influential both in and out of China. CAEG presents more than 5500 events in more than 300 cities abroad, attracting more than 10 million audiences annually, playing a significant role in China’s external cultural relations. The company has co-produced shows including multi-media acrobatic extravaganza ERA-Intersection of Time, Chinese versions of the Musicals Mamma Mia and Cats. CAEG has established a marketing network covering all major markets in China. Its ticketing network has 22 offices, offering services to more than 50 cities. The company’s CPAA Theatre Chain now has 57 member theatres including 9 directly-managed with a total of more than 100,000 seats, presenting 4800 performances and attracting more than 4 million audiences annually.