Mar 24–May 10, 2006

Opera programme

The unique Chinese art form of Xiqu, Chinese opera, is the focal point of "China - Between the Past and the Present". No other art form dominates China’s image abroad like its opera. No other art form has been handed down at such a high cultural level or been politically instrumentalised to the same extent. People are still fascinated by opera performers, their techniques and their abilities. A broadly based discussion has unfolded over the rediscovery of the traditions of the various forms of opera in China.

Stars of Chinese Opera


Chinese music theatre is one of the oldest surviving theatre traditions in the world. Along with the Beijing Opera, the only form familiar to most of us here in Europe, some 300 styles are still performed today. Gaining perfect mastery of its codified gestures and mime and being able to express these in a new and individual way place very high demands on an actor’s virtuosity. At the invitation of the House of World Cultures, five famous representatives of very different opera traditions will be presenting their vision of contemporary music theatre in remarkable monodramas.

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Mei Lanfang

26. und 27.04.2006

In co-operation with the Komische Oper Berlin, a major opera will be performed in Berlin that deals with the legendary opera performer Mei Lanfang. Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) is considered one of the most important performers in the Beijing Opera (Jingju) tradition. The present opera, Mei Lanfang, was staged by Chen Xinyi, China’s best-known theatre director, for the Beijing Jingju Ensemble. Protagonist, Mei Lanfang personifies the themes of tradition (past and handed down) and renewal. The present production offers a much-discussed example of the translation of traditional forms into a modern, contemporary language.

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   the opera scenes >>>

Fantasy of the Red Queen

09. und 10.05.2006

In co-operation with the Ensemble Modern, the House of World Cultures is premièring the commissioned opera Fantasy of the Red Queen by Liu Sola. The opera centres on Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, who was herself an opera singer. Jiang Qing, the propagandist of the cultural revolution, was jointly responsible for the persecution of millions of people during this period as well as for the devastating destruction of both art works and documents of China’s music and opera traditions. Liu Sola’s chamber opera is a deconstruction of Jian Qing’s ‘revolutionary opera’. At the same time, it is a historical attempt to re-position contemporary art in China.

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