Shanghai Daily

Betrayal and crossed swords doom ill-fated lovers

- Tan Weiyun

THE opera “Baihua’s Sword” is about love and betrayal.

During the Song Dynasty (9601279), Fang La leads a rebellion to overturn the central government. His sister Fang Baihua, 20, is a young general good at archery, swordplay and horse riding. Within several months, her troops conquer eight provinces.

At a birthday party for Baihua, her brother gives her a treasured sword. Among the soldiers at the feast is the spy Jiang Liuyun, assigned by the Song army to get military informatio­n.

During the night, Jiang sneaks into a secret meeting room to steal a military map. He runs into Baihua’s maid.

The encounter becomes an unexpected reunion when the maid recognizes the spy as her long-lost brother. He persuades her to help the Song government.

When Baihua returns to camp and is changing her clothes in front of a mirror, she spots a man hiding behind her. She pulls out her birthday sword, and a fierce fight ensues. The maid comes to stop the fight, calling a “misunderst­anding.”

The sister and brother then proceed to deceive Baihua with sweet talk and flattery. As a young woman craving romance and enamored of Jiang, Baihua gifts him her treasured sword as a love token.

Baihua trusts her lover implicitly and promotes him to the post of vice general to defend the city of Phoenix, a strategica­lly important place. Jiang sends the military informatio­n back to the central government, and the city is lost.

Baihua fights hard against outnumbere­d government forces. When Jiang arrives with the treasured sword and offers her amnesty, she realizes she has been betrayed.

Filled with grief and indignatio­n, she stabs Jiang with the sword before using it to kill herself.

In Zhu Gang’s painting, Baihua’s affection and happiness is reflected in her eyes as she presents the sword to Jiang. However, their different loyalties represent crossed swords, and their love is doomed.

WITH so many young idols emerging on the music, film and dance scene these days, 30 seems to be a seminal number for many older female artists who are desperate for another crack at stardom.

Yet two actresses are bucking the trend.

Liu Mintao and Wu Jinyan are both over 30 years old, still going strong and currently carving out a bigger name for themselves in the exciting “Fighting Youth” series on Dragon TV.

Liu, 45, portrays Shu Wanting, a tough and ambitious senior manager of a big company.

The actress, who hails from Yantai, Shandong Province, is aware there are many actresses her age worried about finding work in the film and TV industry, but believes nothing is impossible if you work hard and

apply yourself.

“I’m dedicated to improving my acting,” said Liu, adding that she is prepared to do whatever it takes to win an Oscar, even if she has to work into her late 60s.

Liu, a graduate from the Central Academy of Drama, received tons of applause for her performanc­es in the epic feature “The

Disguiser” and the costume drama “Nirvana in Fire.”

Liu was a low-profile, familyorie­nted actress in the early stages of her career. But in 2014 the period drama “Romance of Our Parents” thrust her into the spotlight.

Liu revealed she took inspiratio­n from a friend, to depict Shu, the character in “Fighting

Youth,” who shared a similar career background. The actress confessed the role was a challenge because in most of her former screen roles she played simple, tender and modest women.

The role also reminded Liu of her own career developmen­t. She said it is important for a woman to work hard, be independen­t, confident and be open to a career of new possibilit­ies.

“Now I come to realize the significan­t role of a career in the assessment and recognitio­n of one’s life,” Liu said. “It can largely help build confidence and deal with any unexpected circumstan­ces in life.”

Wu Jinyan, 31, plays the lead role of Zhang Xiaoyu, a young, hardworkin­g cosmetics saleswoman in the drama. Although her character doesn’t have an enviable background in education, she is gifted in sales because of her father’s influence, who is a merchant in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province.

Wu said that Zhang shares some similariti­es with her former role — Wei Yingluo, a strong-willed and courageous 18th century imperial concubine in the epic drama series “Story of Yanxi Palace.”

“Both of them achieve their goals with great efforts and a never-yielding spirit,” Wu said. “But Zhang is more outspoken and energetic.”

Wu prefers roles where women can pursue their dreams, regardless of prejudice and discrimina­tion. The Chengdubor­n actress feels honored to be in a position to play these courageous women. She hopes it will help inspire other ambitious women to go on to fulfil their dreams.

 ??  ?? “Baihua’s Sword”
“Baihua’s Sword”
 ??  ?? “Fighting Youth”
“Fighting Youth”

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