About this Recording
82012 - YAN: The White-Haired Girl (Orchestral Highlights)
English 

The White-Haired Girl
Overture

Prelude

[1] Act 1:

(a) North Wind Blow

(b) Flower Dance
(i) Young Girls' Dance
(ii) Xi'er's Solo Dance

(c)
(i) Wang Dachun's Solo Dance
(ii) Xi'er and Wong Dachun's Dance

(d) The Head-Band

(e) Huang Shiren's Arrival

(f) Xi'er's Father Fighting with Huang Shiren

(g) Xi'er Crying Over the Death of Her Father

(h) Wang Dachun Scolding Huang Shiren

(i) Wang Dachun and Family Fighting Against Huang Shiren's People

(j) Wang Dachun's Solo Kun-fu Dance

(22:17)

[2] Act 2:

(a) Xi'er Meets Aunt Zhang

(b) Huang's Cruel Mother

(c)
(i) Xi'er Brings Tea
(ii) Huang's Mother Beating Xi'er
(iii) Aunt Zhang Stops Huang's Mother
(iv) Servants Bringing Food
(v) Huang Shiren Beating Xi'er
(vi) Xi'er Fights Back
(vii) Xi'er Beaten Up by Huang Shiren
(viii) Huang's Mother Praying God
(ix) Aunt Zhang's Consolation to Xi'er

(d)
(i) Xi'er Fights Back Against Huang Shiren
(ii) Aunt Zhang Saves Heroine A (11:26)

[3] Act 3:

(a) Aunt Zhang Helps Xi'er to Escape

(b) Huang Shiren's People Chasing After Xi'er

(c) Xi'er Hiding Away

Act 4:

(a) Getting up the Mountain

(b) Fighting the Wind

(c) Fighting Against the Wild Beast

(11:22)

[4] Act 5:

(a)
(i) Army Arrives at Xi'er's House
(ii) Children Bringing Flowers' Dance
(iii) Sending Love to My Dear Ones

Act 6:

(a) Wang Dachun Gets Back Home

Act 7:

(a) Aunt Zhang Tells Everybody About Xi'er's Situation

Finale:

(a) Celebration of Freedom

(21:15)

Van Jinxuan was born in 1924, a native of Gui province. She started her involvement with music at the age of fourteen, and later worked as a singer and violinist in the Chongfeng Opera House of Yanan and the Central Orchestra. She subsequently studied composition at the Lu Xun College of Fine Arts, continuing her studies at the Beijing Centra) Conservatory. She has served as President of the Huanan Music and Drama Troupe, Chairwoman of the Beijing Children's Arts Conservatory, with similar positions in Shanghai. Her compositions include a number of large-scale ballets and the children's opera Shuang-shuang and Her Stepmother.

The opera-ballet The White-Haired Girl by Yan Jinxuan is based on the opera of the same name, with instrumental arrangements by Chen Benhong, Zhang Hongxiang and Chen Xieyang. The work was first written in 1964 and gradually grew into a large-scale opera-ballet first performed at the Shanghai Spring Festival in 1965. The score makes use of music from various ethnic groups in Southern China, from Hebei and Shanxi Bangzhi Opera. Use is made of both Western and Chinese instruments.

Synopsis

Overture

The Overture to the White-Haired Girl makes use of three principal themes, the first appealing for revolt, the second theme of Xi'er and the third associated with the villains of the story.

The Prelude has the explanatory title Unrestrained Rage. The action itself is set in Yangezhuang Village in Hebei Province in 1937. The tyrannical landlord Huang Shiren collaborates with the Japanese invaders and commits every atrocity in exploiting the villagers, whose anger cannot be restrained.

Act I, Great Hatred, opens with snow falling as the North wind blows. Xi'er waits anxiously for her father, who has left his house to avoid his creditor, but will return home to celebrate with her the coming Spring Festival. Four girls, friends of Xi'er, come to see her, carrying lanterns. When they find her waiting, they bring out the paper-cut window decorations they have made and give them to her. They dance happily, in an effort to comfort her. Xi'er accepts the paper decorations and dances with her friends. Then she pastes the paper on the windows, as darkness falls. The girls bid her farewell and go home. Wang Dachun, Xi'er's lover, enters, t)ringing her a bag of flour. Xi'er gives Wang Dachun a sickle and they express their love for each other, looking into the happy future.

Xi'er's father, Yang Bailao, after avoiding his creditor for a week, returns home and expresses his hatred of the landlord. Xi'er, excited, happily welcomes her father home, and Yang Bailao binds his daughter's hair with a red ribbon he has bought in the market.

At this point Huang Shiren and his henchman Mu Renzhi come to Dun Yang Bailao for money, with the real intention of taking Xi'er in settlement of her father's debt, but he resolutely refuses to sell his daughter and Huang Shiren batters him to death. Seeing her father dead, Xi'er throws herself on his body and weeps bitterly. When he hears her crying Wang Dachun hurries over with other villagers. He rebukes Huang Shiren indignantly for his brutal violence and he and other villagers fight bravely against Huang Shiren's henchmen, who finally seize Xi'er. With unrestrained fury Wang Dachun takes up a hatchet and threatens to fight to the death with Huang Shiren. He is dissuaded by Uncle Zhao, a secret member of the Communist Par1y, who takes out a red arm-band of the Eighth Route Army and tells Wang Dachun and the other villagers that only under the readership of the Communist Par1y and through arms can the poor over1hrowthe enemy. Wang Dachun and some other young people wave farewell, as they go to join the Eighth Route Army.

In Act II Xi'er makes her escape from Huang Shiren. After her capture, however, she is forced to work from morning to night in Huang's house. She is helped by Aunt Zhang, one of Huang's servants. Huang's mother enters the hall of the house to worship the buddha and orders the slave-girl to massage her back with her fists, but the girl is so tired that she cannot help nodding off. The old woman pulls out a hairpin and viciously pricks the girl's face. Xi'er carries a cup of tea to the old woman, who complains that the tea is too hot and splashes it over Xi'er's face. The latter is angry and turns against the old woman, who takes up her stick and tries to scald the girl with burning incense. At this point Aunt Zhang rushes to Xi'er's rescue.

Huang Shiren bids the sJave-girls bring in offerings for his mother to check. The old woman falls asleep, and Xi'er brings her another cup of tea. Huang Shiren attacks her, hurling obscenities at her. Xi'er does her best to resist and accidentally breaks the tea-cup. Huang Shiren rushes out, but his mother, wakened by the noise, calls her people to seize and whip Xi'er, who is punished and loses consciousness, then to the hauled back before the old woman by her attendants.

The hypocritical landlord worships the Buddha again and then goes out. Aunt Zhang is deeply grieved by Xi'er's misfor1une. When the latter regains consciousness, she determines to escape. Huang Shiren tries to assault the girl, who repels his advance, slapping his face and throwing the incense-burner at him. Aunt Zhang hurries to Xi'er's rescue, pretending to bring in a cup of tea and Huang Shiren awkwardly makes his escape.

In Act III, Determination of Revenge, Aunt Zhang secretly escorts Xi'erto the entrance to the village. Hearing pursuing foot steps, she urges Xi'er to run away quickly. With lanterns in their hands, Mu Renzhi and two other men pursue Xi'er, who runs on in desperation. Coming to a river, she hides herself in the reeds, and when Huang Shiren's people find one of Xi'er's shoes by the side of the river they presume that she has drowned herself and go back disappointed. Seeing them run away, Xi'er struggles out of the reeds. Hungry and soaked to the skin, she sings resolutely: I will not die! I will live on! I will take revenge!

Act IV, Longing for Sunrise, brings renewed hope. Xi'er enters distant mountain country and begins her hard struggle against nature. Sand, blown by a fierce wind, beats on her face, as she stubbornly struggles forward. In late autumn, as vegetation withers, she wanders in the wilderness, in search of food. Attacked by a ferocious tiger, she fights bravely and beats the animals back. Then in the bitter cold of winter she struggles against the biting wind and driving snow.

In the remote wilderness Xi'er has passed one year after another. Her hair has turned white, yet her determination to take revenge is all the greater. She is eager to see the red sunrise in the East and the poor people set free.

Act V brings further hope, as the red flag is raised over Yanggezhuang Village. It is three years later, in the later spring, and the Eighth Route Army, led by the Communist Party, liberates Yanggezhuang Village. The happy villagers welcome the soldiers, shouting their joy and waving flags. Carrying red flowers, the children dance to welcome the victorious army. A group of young women offers the soldiers red dates. Now Wang Dachun leads a band of soldiers into the village and the villagers are even more excited when they see him.

Aunt Zhang is so happy at Wang Dachun's return that she bursts into tears. Taking his hand, she tells him what has happened to Xi'er. Holding up a gun, he expresses his resolve to set free all those in the world who suffer like Xi'er. Other soldiers join the dance, followed by Uncle Zhao and a group of young men, brandishing their swords. Wang Dachun and Uncle Zhao call on the soldiers and villagers to deal with the tyrannical Huang Shiren. Excited and indignant, the soldiers and villagers determine to wipe out the Japanese invaders and to punish wicked 1andlords and traitors, and now they dance together to show their unity of purpose. A slave-girl of Huang Shiren hurries in to tell them of the escape of Huang Shiren and Mu Renzhi, but Wang Dachun and Uncle Zhao lead the people in pursuit.

Act VI brings an angry encounter. On a stormy night Xi'er comes upon a temple, which she enters in her search for food. She is about to take the offering from the altar, when she hears foot steps and hides. Huang Shiren and Mu Renzhi enter, seeking shelter from heavy rain in the temple. They prostrate themselves before the image of the goddess, seeking her help. There is a peal of thunder. A flash of lightning shows Xi'er the faces of her two enemies and she jumps up onto the altar, glaring at them in anger. Panic-stricken, they run away and Xi'er throws a candlestick after them, rushing out in pursuit.

At this moment the pursuers enter the temple and find an umbrella and a hat left by their quarry. Uncle Zhao leads the continued pursuit, while Wang Dachun searches the temple carefully. Xi'er returns to the temple for food, but seeing a soldier there, runs away. Wang Dachun has searches the white-haired girl and runs after her.

Act VII, Sunrise, brings a happy ending. Xi'er has fled to the cave where she has been living, but her anger against Huang Shiren continues. Wang Dachun enters the cave, searching, and, thinking that he is one of Huang's people, she prepares to fight, but then recognises her old lover. Now she tells him of her bitter experiences and he tells Xi'er that Yanggezhuang has been liberated by the Eighth Route Army. Gradually she realises that she will soon be mistress of her own destiny. She shouts: Revenge! Struggle! and the couple dance together.

Dawn is breaking and the people come to the cave and are happy to see Xi'er. They cover her white hair with a red handkerchief. The old regime turned a person into a ghost, while the Communist Party has brought the ghost to life again. The morning sun shines into the cave, as Xi'er and Wang Dachun walk out together.

The Finale carries the Revolution through to the end. Yanggezhuang has changed. Militia-women with re-tasselled spears drill in the village square and Uncel Zhao brings news of the discovery of Xi'er, who is welcomed by the villagers. Now she denounces Huang Shiren and the people listen, growing increasingly indignant. They add their own accusations and Uncle Zhao pronounces the death sentence on Huang Shiren and Mu Renzhi and this is immediately carried out.

The sun rises from behind the mountains and the people sing. Beloved Chairman Mao, you are the great liberator of our people! The liberated peasants dance in celebration and Uncle Zhao builds a bonfire and the account-books and papers of Huang Shiren are burned. Two young men carry in a wooden board which one hung above the gateway to Huang's house, with the words Virtue Hall on it and this they break in pieces. Xi'er, wearing new clothes and a red kerchief, dances in celebration of liberation.

Wang Dachun leads a band of soldiers to the front. Xi'er and some other villagers have joined the army, determined to carry through the Revolution to the end.


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