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The annual Beijing Music Festival kicked off on Friday with a new version of the traditional Peking opera "Farewell My Concubine".
Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, a Chinese director of operas, musicals, and dramas whose work is known worldwide, the show combines multimedia and contemporary dance with a large-scale music performance.
"Farewell My Concubine" is a romantic tragedy based on the legend of ancient hero Xiang Yu and his beloved concubine Yu Ji. He was defeated during his endeavors to unify China against Liu Bang, the eventual founder of the Han Dynasty, over 2,000 years ago.
In Chen's adaptation, he retains the singing from the traditional Peking Opera and uses interactive multimedia techniques as a way to convey the inner thoughts of the characters.
His production uses modern stage technology and incorporates elements such as dancing, lighting and even a real horse.
Chen said: "I wanted to create a new version of this story based on the classics, but break away from the usual limitations of Peking Opera to create a contemporary theater vocabulary that would resonate with today's audiences. Tradition is not merely about form, it's about the spirit that the form is built upon, we should let its spirit live in the life that surrounds us."
The orchestra for the show not only uses traditional Chinese musical instruments but also has a five-piece band which uses Western musical instruments, including the violin, cello and harp.
Chen also presented his musical "The Orphan of Zhao" at the festival. The piece tells the story of an orphan's revenge against those who killed his family members and features a group of foreign artists.
Chen said he attempted to create a new form of expression that was "neither Western nor Chinese, but rather a new kind of theater," in which these elements could equally coexist.
With the theme of "Entering the 21st - Dawn of a New Era," the 21st Beijing Music Festival will present 21 performances, including opera, orchestral symphonies and chamber music recitals.
The festival runs until October 26.