The first contemporary Nanguan opera
An intriguing romance between man and sprite
Spiritual voices of the ancient past that speak to the present
"When (Wang Xinxin) begins to sing, we simply forget where we are"
- Lin Hwai-min, Artistic Director, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre
This striking contemporary opera, by renowned director Lukas Hemleb and the Xinxin Nanguan Ensemble of Taiwan, adds a new angle to the Chinese legend behind the Double Seventh Festival. The story revolves around a fairy trapped in the human world after her lover steals her feather robe while she is bathing in the river. As a result, the fairy is forced to suffer eternal loneliness while her love changes the destiny of the world. Based on this ancient tale, the production attempts to interpret conventional love from a contemporary point of view.
Feather poignantly interweaves the rich beauty of oriental culture with the simplicity of Nanguan music. Based on classical Nanguan qupai (fixed melodies), the present-day musical arrangement adds a touch of post-modernity, creating a fascinating dialogue between the traditional and the new, all set against a backdrop by renowned calligrapher Tong Yang-tze.
Hemleb's work has appeared at the prestigious Schwetzingen Festival in Germany while his The Marquise of O was nominated for a Molière Award in 2008. In Feather, virtuoso Nanguan musician Wang Xinxin performs with top pipa player Wang Hsi-jong, who delights in revealing the different characteristics of northern and southern pipa music. Also taking part is all-round talent Lee Yi-hsiu, a seasoned playwright, director, and Nanguan performer, who takes up the challenging performance of the dan (female role) in this remarkable, star-studded show.
Renowned for its delicate style, blending artistic insight with ritualistic elements that reflect its ancient lineage, Nanguan, "southern winds", or Nanyin, "Sounds of the South", is one of the oldest musical genres in China. Since its instrumentation and musical theories bear a close resemblance to the daqu (grand music) of the Han and Tang dynasties, Nanguan has been regarded as a "living fossil" of Chinese music. In 2009, Nanguan was included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Wang Xinxin began to study Nanguan music at the age of four, going on to gain acclaim for her exceptional singing skills. Wang has given more than 100 performances around the world including the Avignon Festival in France, Pina Bausch Dance Festival of Wuppertal, the Flanders Festival in Belgium, as well as performances in The Netherlands, Portugal and the USA. Wang currently dedicates herself to cultivating collaborations between Nanguan and contemporary art forms, and to blending Nanguan vocals with poetry.
||Wang Xinxin, Lee Yi-hsiu
||Xinxin Nanguan Ensemble of Taiwan
Première commissioned by:
Music composition sponsored by:
Artist group sponsored by:
Photo: Lin Sheng