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Sichuan Opera "Sister Jiang" Won the Wenhua Grand Award

By SHIHAN YANGICHONGQING|Sep 19,2022

Chongqing – The Sichuan Opera “Sister Jiang,” composed by Chongqing Sichuan Opera Company, won the 17th Wenhua Award on September 15 during the closing ceremony of the 13th China Arts Festival in Xiong’an, Hebei Province.

Sichuan Opera “Sister Jiang” won the 17th Wenhua Grand Award (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The Wenhua Grand Award is a national government stage art award established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, honored as the highest award in the field of stage art in China. On September 11, the Sichuan Opera “Sister Jiang” participated in the final review of the Wenhua Award via live webcasts at the Chongqing Sichuan Opera Art Center, with 16.7788 million netizens from more than 50 platforms experiencing the touching story.

New Attempt: applying native red resources to create local characteristics

The play is based on the novel “Red Rock” and premiered in January 2018, starring Shen Tiemei, a leading figure in Sichuan Opera, and directed by national first-class director Ouyang Ming.

“Sister Jiang” is the heroine engraved in the hearts of every Chongqing resident. The Sichuan Opera version integrates Chongqing’s excellent local opera culture and the spirit of patriotism. Wang Yaxun, the artistic director of the China Pingju Opera Theater, commented, “It conveys strong regional characteristics and is a valuable practice for subsequent adaptation and transplantation.” Liu Yuqin, former director of the Literature and Art Department of People’s Daily, said, “This play is a tribute to the local red resources in Chongqing.”

Publicity poster for Sichuan Opera “Sister Jiang” (Photo provided by Chongqing Sichuan Opera Company)

New performance: promoting the innovative development of traditional repertoire

Literature and art are the horns of the age and the most representative definition of its ethos. “We want to convey the contemporary cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual value of traditional art from this classic story,” said Shen Tiemei. 

The opera has been performed 108 times, allowing the team to obtain sufficient performance experience and evaluation feedback. National first-class conductor Wang Xiaogang believed that performance is the life of an art group. “It is better to say that this play is polished rather than performed.” He concluded.

In terms of stage design, the play combines virtual and natural to create symbols of regional elements such as stilted buildings in this mountain city. As for the music and plot design, the team continuously reinforces the opera logic and vocal characteristics of Sichuan Opera. “The play demonstrates Shen Tiemei’s artistic style, cultural height, and comprehensive strength as a leader in Chinese opera performance art,” said Chen Yongquan, vice chairman of the Henan Federation of Literature and Arts.

Stage photo of “Sister Jiang” (Photo provided to iChongqing)

New vitality: the spiritual resonance draws more fresh blood

To perform better in the final, the crew entirely carried forward the spirit of Sister Jiang, polished the show in detail, and united to overcome the difficulties encountered one by one. Outside the play, the audience was also affected by its spiritual connotation. “Our mission is to inherit the cultural treasure and unique card of the Sichuan-Chongqing region.” Shen Tiemei said.

Today, more and more young people tend to enjoy Sichuan Opera and experience the charm of this national intangible cultural heritage up close. “I think the cultural confidence grows stronger with more lasting vitality while the young people started to appreciate Sichuan Opera,” said Xu Chao, deputy director of the Chongqing Sichuan Opera Company.

(Chen Lu, as an intern, also contributed to this report)

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