2018 Taiwan Arts Festival: Sunlight after Snowfall
Orchestra x Peking Opera: Sunlight after Snowfall
Is this my home? Or is it a foreign land? Where does my homeland lie? “Sunlight after Snowfall”, a letter penned by legendary Chinese calligrapher Wang Xizhi, is one of the crown jewels of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. It reads: “Salutations from Xizhi. There is now sunlight after the snowfall. It is pleasant. I trust you are keeping well. I must conclude this letter without fully expressing my thoughts, for I do not have the strength. Sincerely, Wang Xizhi.” In just 24 characters, this short letter conveys emotions beyond words, beautifully illustrating life and displacement during the chaos of war.
The GuoGuang Opera Company and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra bring this masterpiece from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) to modern-day Taiwan in Sunlight after Snowfall, a splendid crossover of Peking opera and symphony orchestra that breaks through the barriers of time and space, art and performance style. From a Hong Kong perspective, the show explores the complex relationship between mainland China and Taiwan that has continued to evolve both politically and culturally since the Chinese Civil War. Two performances will be held at the Grand Theatre of Hong Kong Cultural Centre, on November 10th and 11th. Featuring: Chung Yiu-kwong, Musical Composer; Lee Chao, Vocal Composer; and Chien Wen-pin, Conductor. Starring: GuoGuang veteran artist Tang Wen-hua; the Diva of Peking Opera, Wei Hai-ming; Baritone artist Wu Bai-Yu-hsi; and Soprano artist Chiang Chi-chen.
Starting point: “Sunlight after Snowfall”, the crown jewel of National Palace Museum
Written by renowned playwright Shih Ju-fang, this story begins when Zhang Rong, the recipient of Wang Xizhi’s letter, “Sunlight after Snowfall", dies in battle during a northern expedition. Chang’s soul then embarks on a journey in search of his dear friend’s letter through the Chinese dynasties, from Eastern Jin, Tang and Southern Song to Qing, eventually leading him to modern-day Taiwan. Here, he shall ponder the question: “Where does my homeland lie?” There are two other branches to the story: In one, a mother is heartbroken when her two sons grow up to fight on opposite sides of the battlefield as pawns of rival warlords; in the other, a Taiwanese soldier joins the Chinese Civil War and destroys his family in the process. These stories finally help Zhang Rong understand why Wang Xizhi and his descendants chose to start over in their “new hometown” of Jiangnan, south of the Yangtze River. The original production was directed by Lee Xiao-ping; the revival is directed by Tai Chun-fang and Wang Kwan-chiang.
Groundbreaking crossover: Peking Opera and Symphony Orchestra
GuoGuang Opera Company is a Taiwanese performance art troupe headed by art director Wang An-chi and troupe leader Chang Yu-hua. The company’s plays in recent years have expanded from preserving and passing on the essence of Peking opera traditions to introducing a sense of literariness and modernity, enabling modern Peking opera to go beyond the stage and join the contemporary literary scene. GuoGuang’s performances exhibit diverse creativity and humanistic thinking, paving the way to a new Taiwanese Peking opera aesthetic. Recent productions, including The Golden Cangue, Meng Xiaodong, One Hundred Years on Stage and Lord Guan Yu on Stage, have been well received by Hong Kong audiences.
The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (HK Phil) is recognised as Asia’s foremost classical orchestra. The orchestra’s Music Director Jaap van Zweden is one of today’s most sought-after conductors; Yu Long is the Principal Guest Conductor of the HK Phil.