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82022 - Red Lantern (Orchestral Highlights)
Revolutionary Operas and Ballets
It was the desire of Jiang Qing to produce Peking operas that might have the desired effect in as short a time as possible, and this inevitably involved large teams of script-writers, musicians and artists. Jiang Qing's advice was to attempt first works on a smaller scale and later expand them to larger forms. She also saw the possibility of borrowing material from existing operas and pointed out that singing and acting styles ought to be in accordance with those of traditional Peking opera, with no concession to the individuality of the performer, no matter how famous. One element she realised must be overcome, namely the portrayal of the villain, who may often appeal to the public through a display of martial arts and in exaggerated stage make-up. She praised in particular the Shanghai Peking Opera Company in its revision of Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, in which scenes involving the villain were cut in order to stress the qualities of the good characters.
It has been said that the Cultural Revolution began with the revolution in Peking opera. The Red Lantern played a significant part in the opening phase of the movement, praised officially by the authorities as 'a high quality modern Peking opera' after its first performance in Beijing in 1964 and subsequent revised performances in Shanghai and Guangdong in the following year, after which it was taken as a model for all varieties of regional Chinese operas. It was the most frequently performed of all these works between 1964 and 1966.
The Red Lantern (arranged by Zhang Hongxiang and Yue Deshun)
Modern Peking Opera on a Contemporary Revolutionary Theme
The Red Lantern was arranged by Zhang Hongxiang and Yue Deshun from a Shanghai opera of the same title, the latter in turn adapted from the film There are Newcomers to the Revolution and the drama The Three Generations. The story was not directly associated with the political and economic doctrines of Communism, but was rather a historical drama concerned with the Japanese invasion of China. Nevertheless the principal character Li Yuhe makes frequent use of words and phrases redolent of Communist thought, such as 'revolution', 'class hatred' and 'the Communist Party'. The fact that Li's family is artificially made up of members of different generations from the families of Li, Zhang and Chen shows that human relationships are not limited to ties of blood, reminding audiences of the necessity of re-assessing the traditional relationships of Chinese society. The red lantern itself can easily be perceived as a symbol of Maoist thought or of guiding Communist cadres.
In several ways The Red Lantern differs from traditional Peking opera, apart from its modern setting. Stage decor and setting are realist and modern and the part of Li's daughter Tiemei includes folk-song as well as stylized operatic singing. Dialogue is delivered in a style akin to ordinary Beijing speech rather than in traditional recitative style. These changes occur, of course, in the other revolutionary operas.
Lam Ching Wah
Railway worker Li Yuhe is working secretly for the Communist Party. Three generations of his family have formed a revolutionary fighting group in the February 7 strike movement. Li Yuhe has been given the task of carrying the secret code to the guerillas in the north hills. Unfortunately he is betrayed and arrested. The chief of the Japanese military police, Hatoyama, tries every trick to make Li Yuhe hand over the code, but Li never gives way, even on the execution-ground, and renders Hatoyama powerless. Eventually the cruel enemy murders Li and grandmother, but Tiemei carries out the unfinished task, taking the secret code with great difficulty, yet with the help of the people, to the north hills.
1. Introduction: A poor man's child soon learns to cope (Li Yuhe)
2. Men with fine, loyal hearts (Tiemei)
3. Nothing in the world will give Communists difficulty (Li Yuhe)
4. Our people are fuming with discontent (Li Yuhe and the Knife-grinder)
5. I must be like this (Tiemei)
6. It fills me with courage and strength (Li Yuhe)
7. Follow your father's brave heart and firm will (Grandmother)
8. A debt of blood must be paid with enemy blood (Grandmother)
9. Facing the enemy easily, as lofty as a mountain (Li Yuhe)
10. Communist Chairman Mao leads the People's Revolution (Li Yuhe)
11. They cannot chain my soaring spirit (Li Yuhe)
12. Farewell on the Execution Ground
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