Veteran singer Yan Weiwen (front) and other performers rehearse for the upcoming opera Long March. [Photo provided to China Daily]
The Long March, a two-year tactical retreat of the Red Army to evade Kuomintang forces starting in 1934, will be staged as an opera at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing from July 1 to 6.
Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the epic march, the opera, titled Long March, written by famed scriptwriter Zou Jingzhi and composed by Yin Qing, traces historic events during the Long March. They include the battle at Xiangjiang River, which saw around 50,000 Red Army soldiers die, and the battle at Luding Bridge, which saw a small Red Army force brave gunfire to cross the bridge and attack enemy positions on the other side - successfully securing a bridgehead for the army to cross.
"How can we make audiences feel connected with a story from 80 years ago? What do we think of the soldiers, their sacrifices and their spirit, in a contemporary era? We had many thoughts before creating this opera, and we tried to find a proper angle to tell the story," director Tian Qinxin said after a recent rehearsal at the NCPA.
It's the first opera production for Tian, one of China's most accomplished and pioneering drama directors.
Despite her famous productions, including Green Snake, which is based on well-known Chinese folklore, and Romeo and Juliet, which pays tribute to William Shakespeare, Tian says it was challenging for her to come up with ways to make the Long March story work in 2016.