Chi­nese mu­si­cal ready for grand pre­sen­ta­tion at Beijing fes­ti­val

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHEN­NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Suit­cases, snow, a red sofa, wooden stairs and a raven come to­gether in The Fugi­tive, a mul­ti­me­dia mu­si­cal pro­duc­tion. This is a world where the late Aus­trian com­poser Franz Schu­bert’s fa­mous piece Win­ter Jour­ney — about a poet pin­ing for his lost love in the cold and grad­u­ally dy­ing— mixes with im­ages based on Ger­man poet Wil­helm Mueller’s words.

As part of the on­go­ing Beijing Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, which was launched in 1998 as a ma­jor cel­e­bra­tion of clas­si­cal mu­sic, the show will be staged on Fri­day at an art house in the city.

“It has in­spired artists of dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions and from dif­fer­ent fields to cre­ate, to cel­e­brate its legacy. That’s why we want to in­ter­pret Win­ter Jour­ney in our own pro­duc­tion,” says the direc­tor Zou Shuang, who de­vel­oped the idea of The Fugi­tive over a cup of cof­fee with Chi­nese bari­tone Shen Yang.

As they talked about the pro­duc­tion, they re­al­ized that the cen­tral role of the man, who­mourns­for his lost love, con­nects with them, Zou says.

“Each of us has a jour­ney in life. It’s hard to sep­a­rate our­selves from him. That’s the most com­pelling thing we found while mak­ing the mu­si­cal,” she adds.

She says that al­though the pro­duc­tion was in­spired by Schu­bert’s mu­sic, Zou wants to widen the scope and of­fer a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence to the au­di­ence by com­bin­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic, dance, theater and tech­nol­ogy.

The pro­duc­tion team in­cludes the mul­ti­me­dia de­signer Karl Klomp from theNether­lands, set de­signer Han Jiang and sound de­signer Zhang Ziqian from China.

Shen says Win­ter Jour­ney is one of his fa­vorite mu­sic pieces. The 32-year-old is the first Chi­nese bari­tone to record it in 2006. Shen won the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Com­pe­ti­tion

It’s not phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing but men­tally ex­haust­ing to per­form the piece.” mu­si­cal bari­tone of the

Shen Yang,

TheFugi­tive and made his Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera de­but in April 2009.

Shen sings in Zou’s pro­duc­tion as well.

“It’s not phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing but men­tally ex­haust­ing to per­form the piece,” says Shen.

The singer also notes that Win­ter Jour­ney was com­posed at the end of Schu­bert’s short life. He died in 1828, aged 31. Dur­ing his ac­tive ca­reer, Schu­bert com­posed more than 600 songs.

“The process of per­form­ing the role is like prac­tic­ing tai chi. I try to use my strength from within, not just the tech­niques I learned,” Shen says.

In the mu­si­cal, the singer will also in­ter­act with a dancer, who does pop­ping (a form of street dance), to the mu­sic of Schu­bert. For Shen, it’s an ex­per­i­ment both for them and the au­di­ence.

“The dancer rep­re­sents free­dom that could be a spirit in the melan­cholic poet’s head,” Shen says.

Every year Beijing Mu­sic Fes­ti­val com­mis­sions young direc­tors and artists to cre­ate new­works.

“This pro­duc­tion is a big step for­ward for us be­cause it cel­e­brates mu­si­cal lega­cyand in­no­va­tion,” saysTuSong, the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram direc­tor.

7:30 pm, Oct 28. The Red, Taikoo Li San­l­i­tun North, Chaoyang dis­trict, Beijing. 400-610-3721.

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