Pining Strings, Lingering Harmony, written by Patrick Wang and Linda (Nalan) Zhao, will come to The Coopers Malthouse during the Chinese Lantern Festival (also known as The Festival of Reunion). This work, based on Master Pei Jinbao’s real life story and historical events in China, will unveil to its audiences the secret of these beguiling and beautiful ancient instruments, hidden in the mists of four long centuries.
Over ninety minutes, 10 Guqin masterpieces will be presented to the audience, including a very famous piece, White Snow, performed as a Guqin-Cello duet. Musicians of the period in this play are also story-tellers, singers and dancers and the performers will be dressed in 17th century costume, luring the audience into the fascinating and mysterious world of the Ming.
The work features, both as subject and form of expression, the enchanting Guqin, China’s oldest stringed instrument, listed by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. This numinous instrument is the soul of the work.
“This is not a traditional form of regional Chinese opera, such as Beijing opera, nor a contemporary performance of familiar works of modern Chinese opera such as The White-haired Girl, or Red Detachment of Women, which have played to Western audiences for some time. There have been various ‘hybrid’ works employing intercultural aspects of stagecraft, instrumentation and genre but this is a fittingly inventive work for a multicultural city such as Melbourne. It is an original and exciting blend of Chinese storytelling with a universally accessible and ‘operatic’ theme and music that integrates the exquisite, haunting delicacy of an age-old Chinese instrument with melody that crosses cultural and temporal barriers.”
– Dr Trevor Hay, a Melbourne writer and scholar of Chinese literature and theatre, explains the significance of the work and its originality.
Almost 400 years ago, a tree of the Hanshan Temple in Suzhou was struck by lightning. The emperor was aghast at the destruction of the tree because it was planted by his great grandfather in the year he ascended the throne and it had always been regarded as a symbol of the dynasty itself. He commanded the local government to bring the tree back to life within three months, or the monks of the temple would be put to death.
The entire monastery was in despair at this, but an instrument maker named Zhou Kui said he had a solution, that he could indeed bring the tree back to life – in a way. He spent three months using the wood of the dead tree to make a pair of twin Guqins (an ancient Chinese instrument) and thus, begins the adventurous and enchanting journey of the twin Guqins across four centuries and two continents.
The performance will be a truly multicultural and multi-arts event, with a touch of ancient and modern from China and Australia, including violin, operatic arias and didgeridoo. The show also features Australian and Chinese Australian dancers.
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY / Patrick Wang, Nalan Linda Zhao
CAST/ Jinbao Pei, Qinzi Pei, Nalan Linda Zhao, Ming Zhang, Qing Lu
COMPOSITION / Jinbao Pei, Qinzi Pei, Jianrong Chen
CELLO / Yelian He
DANCERS / Demitri Meyers & Emily Zhang
DIDGERIDOO / Daniel Richardson
CHINESE DRUM / Min Xu
NARRATION / Louisa Shi, Faye Liu
OPERA SINGER / Cindy LiuVIOLIN /Alisa Chen
SCENIC DESIGN / Tony Huang
PROJECT COORDINATOR / Louisa Shi
STAGE MANAGER / Zhi Wang
STYLING / Danhong Ling
SOUNDING ENGINEER / Phillip Zhang
ENGLISH TITLE, SYNOPSIS / Trevor Hay
SUBTITLES / Trevor Hay, Nalan Linda Zhao, Zhi Wang
ADVISORY GROUP / Echo Zixuan Cai, Guosheng Chen, Hong Fu, Marty Mei, Jill Morgan, Junxi Su, Yatong Wang, Jun Ye, Jianhua Zhou, Evan Hubbard
3 March 2018 @ 7.30 PM
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse