The Legend of the White Snake amazed people in Pilsen

18:00 | 17.07.2015 TerryALS 0
The famous Chinese opera crossed borders and visited the Czech Republic. Read about the beautiful story. We also had an opportunity to do a short interview with the leader of the group, who shared many interesting facts with us.
White Snake
White Snake FOTO: TerryALS
People in Pilsen had a unique chance to see the performance of a famous Peking opera this month. As a part of the event "China Today 2015", the Tianjin Peking Opera of 80 members introduced the opera "The Legend of White Snake". This opera combines excellent singing abilities of the main actor and actresses, martial arts and the art of the live orchestra. All topped off with beautiful costumes.

The story of love and betrayal is very famous in China. It existed in oral version even before it was written down on a piece of paper. This opera was then presented in many operas, TV series and movie adaptations. You can read the whole story online.

We had the opportunity to ask a few questions before the actual performance in Pilsen. The leader of the artistic team was kind enough to sit down with us and discuss the journey of preparation of this opera for the Czech audience.

Did you change the performance for the Czech Republic in some aspects?
The opera is 2,5 hours long in China. We decided to shorten it for the international audience to understand the story better. We also put bigger importance to movements rather than singing. And the language barrier was dismissed by putting Czech subtitles above the stage.

How long does it take to prepare a new performance?
The length of the preparation for Czech was six months. It was the first performance we had outside of China.

Why did you decided to perform this very opera?
The singing of Peking´s opera is very specific. We can call it "the treasure of China" and so we decided to perform this performance. It has the best of the best - singing, dancing, martial arts and the live orchestra. It is also a very famous story in China, which we wanted to tell to Czech people.

Why did you choose the Czech Republic for your performance?
The project Pilsen 2015 was one of the main reasons we decided to perform in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

The costumes are beautiful. Are they made especially for each of the actors? How long does it take to make such a nice costume?
The costumes for the main actor and actresses are made especially for them. The supporting roles then have the costumes made in one size. Even despite this, the approximate time needed for one costume to be made is up to one year, not even including the time for making the hair accessories and shoes. Each of the costume is handmade and that is why it takes so long. It usually takes one or two years for everything to be prepared. Doing the make-up before the actual performance takes two hours.

Did the Chinese opera change in some aspects during the past decade?
In the past, the supporting staff was able to go on stage as well. They were changing the scenes, bringing the actors bottles of water or towels. Now, all these changes are done in secret while the lightening is off or when the curtain is down. It does not interrupt the story like this and the audience is not forced to turn their attention to another people on stage.
The opera itself is adapted to fit the taste of the modern generation. For example, it was possible to have two or more wives in the past but it is not possible now, so we are trying not to add this fact into the operas anymore. It was also normal in the past to pay for the length of the performance, the shorter the performance the cheaper the ticket. Now the operas are shorter. There are many types of entertainment these days so the operas are two hours long, the maximum, and they contain the most important parts only.

Can you tell a difference between the reactions of Chinese and Czech audience?
The biggest difference is in the reactions to specific moments in the opera. We can tell it during the singing parts the most. In China, people clap as soon as the actor hit a certain note perfectly, because they can tell how hard it must be to sing that part. On the other hand, in Czech people clap after these parts and it seems they are doing so just as a habit or out of politeness. In Czech people think about these performances more as a culture, not an actual art.

Thank you so much for your time and answering our questions. We hope to see your other performances in Czech soon.



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