Chongqing – As part of the 13th China Arts Festival and the 17th Wenhua Award, the Sichuan Opera “Sister Jiang” (Sister Jiang: Jiang Zhujun, a Chinese communist resistance fighter, and revolutionary martyr.) is performed at the Chongqing Sichuan Opera Art Center on September 11. The performance is composed by the Chongqing Sichuan Opera Company and will be simulcasted online.
Plum Performance Award winner Shen Tiemei will star in the leading role, acting together with two other Plum Prize winners, Sun Yongbo and Huang Ronghua.
Based on the novel “Red Rock,” the Sichuan opera “Sister Jiang” is adapted from the famed playwright Yan Su’s namesake opera. Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned the novel and Sister Jiang when visiting Chongqing in 2016. Two years later, he reviewed the historical culture, the red culture, and the characters in “Red Rock” during the deliberation of the Chongqing delegation at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress.
The reimagined version of the Sichuan Opera of “Sister Jiang” portrays the image of revolutionary martyrs like Sister Jiang through twisty plots, exuberant arias, fancy set designs, and soul-stirring expressions. She lived for ideals and died for beliefs. Group portraits illustrate both the charm of Sichuan opera and the funding spirit of Chinese Communists. The opera was also selected as a key supporting play to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. Nearly 100 performances have been staged nationwide since the play premiered in January 2018.
While adapted from an opera script, the Sichuan opera “Sister Jiang” breaks traditional singing-based expression in its creation and promotes opera vocabulary and program. Chongqing elements were naturally incorporated into the plot design, striving to ground the story in reality. The stage design combines virtual and real forms like a print, highlighting the landform characteristics of the local area. Using inspirations from the original opera, the team amplifies the vocal characteristics of Sichuan opera art in the music design.
As an added feature, three Plum Blossom Award winners will perform in the opera. Shen Tiemei, a celebrity in Sichuan Opera, who won the prize three times, consists of the ace team with Sun Yongbo as Fu Zhigao and Huang Ronghua as the supporting vocal leader. Shen Tiemei uses excellent performing skills to convey a vivid image of female communists that combines the ideals and beliefs of an ordinary and a revolutionary woman. “My eyes could not help but burst into tears repeatedly. Sister Jiang sacrificed at the dawn of victory, but her spirit of perseverance, bravery, and loyalty live on, which will always inspire us to strive for the cause of the party for the rest of our lives,” She said.
In the view of Shen Tiemei, innovation in Sichuan opera must apply to the essence of opera and be inherited according to its logic. “Sister Jiang dedicated her life to communism. As literary and artistic workers in the new era, we should devote ourselves to developing Chinese opera and promoting traditional culture.” According to Shen Tiemei, opera should integrate into urban mainstream culture. Sichuan opera and traditional culture will take root in people’s hearts as more youth become obsessed with them.
(Chen Lu, as an intern, also contributed to the report.)