About this Recording
82063 - GONG: Raid on the White Tiger Regiment (Orchestral Highlights)


In a letter of 9th January, 1944, to the pingju (Ping Opera) theatre at Yan'an, the political capital of the Chinese Communist Party before the Revolution, Mao Zedong mentioned the importance of reversing the trend of traditional Chinese operas, where, for obvious reasons, there was little room for the lower ranks of society. This attitude epitomised the philosophy of the Chinese Communist Party towards stage art, manifested in particular during the period of the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976. During this period, Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing, a former actress from Shanghai who had become heavily involved in politics, chose six revolutionary Peking operas and two ballets to serve as yangban (models) for the three thousand performing stage groups of the country. The six revolutionary operas are: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, The Red Lantern, Sha Family Riverside, Raid on the White Tiger Regiment, On the Docks and Cuckoo Mountains, while the two revolutionary ballets are The White-haired Girl and the Red Detachment of Women. These were considered models for Peking opera, proletarian revolution and the three elements of the Cultural Revolution; struggle, criticism and rehabilitation. An additional motive in their creation was also the possible elimination of political rivals connected with the Party Secretary of Beijing city, including Zhou Yang, Qi Yanming, Xia Yan, Lin Mohan, Tian Han and Zhang Geng, who were labelled 'anti-revolutionary', because of their support for traditional Peking opera.

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 villian, 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 villian 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.

Raid on The White Tiger Regiment


The plot is set in the Korean battlefields in July 1953. At the time, the American armed forces and the Rhee Syngman troops of South Korea were supposedly holding peace talks but in reality, were taking real war actions for the purpose of sabotaging the armistice negotiations. The enemy put together some 100,000 hand-picked troops south of Kim City. Leading the troops was their crack unit, the White Tiger Regiment of the Capital Division. The plan was to launch an attack on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in an attempt to realise its "north driving plan".

In order to smash the enemy's scheme, the Chinese People's Volunteers decide to launch a grand counter-attack. The task to wipe out the White Tiger Regiment is assigned to a regiment of the People's Volunteers. Having accepted the task, the regiment dispatches Yan Weicai, leader of a reconnaissance platoon, to head a squad. With the assistance of Han Dainyun, a deputy platoon leader of the Korean People's Army, and Kim Daiyong, a

North Korean soldier, both liaison men of the Korean People's Army, they disguise themselves as American-Rhee soldiers. They coordinate closely with the People's Volunteers battalion, and, combining their amazing skills and bravery, manage to overcome various obstacles and natural barriers.

Finally, with the help of a Korean village girl, Sister Choi, they manage to destroy the headquarters of the White Tiger Regiment, disrupting the enemy's tactical deployment and creating favourable conditions for the grand counter -attack.

1) Overture       
The overture depicts the peoples and armies of China and North Korea advancing bravely and fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to defeat their common enemy.

2) Intermezzo of Act 1
It expresses the militant friendship between the Chinese People's Volunteers and the Korean people. The mountains take on a new look after the rain; the rosy clouds seem to be welcoming them.

3) The Chinese People's Volunteers appear
A reconnaissance platoon of the Chinese People's Volunteers valiantly arrives at Anpyong Village near the Kim City frontline. The villagers give them a warm welcome.

4) "Defeat the Imperialists, the vicious wolves"
(Suona solo after Van Weicai's aria)
Yan Weicai, a platoon leader of the Chinese People's Volunteers, coaxes the soldiers to follow Mao Zedong's teaching of "using revolutionary tactics to combat counter-revolutionary tactics". They also prepare to expose the enemy's supposed peace talks on the conference table as well as to take action to smash them on the battlefield.

5) "Never cherish any illusions about the enemy"
(Bamboo flute solo after the soldier's chorus)
The soldiers resolutely express their determination to heighten their vigilance and never harbour any illusions about the enemy's peace intentions. To Korean dance music, the Korean villagers appear and extend warm greetings to the soldiers.

6) "Class love is weightier than Taishan Mountain"
(Erhu and suona solos after Aunt Choi's and Yan Weicai's arias)
A year ago, Van lived at Aunt Choi's home while recovering from his wounds. He was very glad to meet her again. Aunt Choi could not help reminiscing about those days and Van again thanks her for her kindness.

7) "The colourful rainbow appears over Anpyong Mountain"
(Bamboo flute solo after the chorus of the soldiers, Aunt Choi and Korean villagers)
The soldiers of the Chinese People's Volunteers are happily dancing with the Korean villagers when enemy planes suddenly appear and bombs fell.

8) "We have so much to say on parting"
(Erhu and suona solos after Aunt Choi and Van Weicai's arias)
The enemy has destroyed the peace talks and launched a full-scale attack. Yan and the soldiers bid a reluctant farewell to the Korean vnlagers before moving to the front line.

9) "The furious billows are raging in the Han River"
(Erhu solo after Aunt Choi's aria)
The American-Rhee troops have captured Anpyong Village. They burn the villagers' homes and force them to repair the highway. Aunt Choi, who pretends to cut firewood, goes to the South Mountain to gather intelligence about the enemy, but is killed. Before dying, she denounces the enemy for their acts of evil and faces death bravely.

10) "The heroic people have strong aspirations"
(Erhu solo after Sister Choi's aria)
Sister Choi, Aunt Choi's daughter-in-law, is filled with bitter grief at Aunt Choi's death. She swears that she will never forget the blood debt and is determined to wrest the weapons from the enemy and eliminate them.

11) "The debt of blood must be paid in blood"
(Bamboo flute solo after Van Weicai's aria)
That same night, Yan commands the soldiers to return to Anpyong Village to gather information about the enemy's movements. Seeing the misery that the villagers are living in, and hearing the news of Aunt Choi's death, Van is gravely saddened and determines to obtain redress.

12) "I am willing to have my body smashed to pieces for the liberation of mankind"
(Suona solo after Yan Weicai's aria)
Van's mind is in tumult upon learning of Aunt Choi's death. He associates her heroic death with his own mother's murder by the American-Chiang Kaishek reactionaries. He is determined to ask for a battle assignment on behalf of all the soldiers of the platoon and to shoulder the heaviest responsibility.

13) "I wish to dedicate my youth to the revolution"
(Suona solo after Yan Weicai's aria)
In order to smash completely the enemy's scheme, the higher command of the Chinese People's Volunteers decide to launch a grand counter-attack on Kim City. Commissar Guan instructs Van to lead an elite squad to the heavily protected enemy camp so as to destroy the headquarters of the White Tiger Regiment, Rhee's crack unit.

14) Intermezzo of Act 3
All the soldiers are ready to go into battle immediately and strike relentless blows at the enemy.

15) "Do not allow a single bandit to escape"
(Bamboo flute solo after Regimental Commander Wang's aria)
Regimental Commander Wang instructs the battalion to attract the enemy's attention and lure them into close combat and night fighting, thus disrupting the enemy's tactical plans. This distraction would greatly improve the chances of Van's elite squad's success.

16) "The guns are loaded and the swords have been sharpened"
(Suona solo after Yan Weicai's aria)
Full of courage, Van reaches the command headquarters and waits for the commander to give the order to proceed.

17) "The White Tiger Regiment shall be utterly routed"
(Suona, erhu and bamboo flute solos after the arias of Yan Weicai, Commissar Guan and Commander Wang)
Commissar Guan and Commander Wang instruct Van to keep in mind Mao Zedong's teaching of "disposing the enemy strategically and destroying their attack tactics". They tell Van to be quick in his actions and resolute in command. Van pledges himself to fulfil the task.

18) "We have disguised ourselves in order to destroy the bandits' den and plunge our sword into his heart"
(Suona solo after Yan Weicai's aria)
Van and his soldiers disguise themselves as Rhee soldiers and penetrate far behind the enemy's lines. A heavy rainstorm hides their quick progress along the muddy road.

19) "We are determined to find our beloved people no matter how great the difficulty may be"
(Erhu solo after Sister Choi's aria)
Following Aunt chors last words, under the cover of the night, and with the help of the villagers, Sister Choi manages to climb over the barren mountain to the prearranged site to make contact with the Chinese People's Volunteers.

20) "The spring thunder is rolling"; "The Erqing Cave"
(Erhu solo after Sister Choi's arias)
Sister Choi is happy to meet the Volunteers in the barren mountains. She leads the soldiers in their climb up the cliff and straight into the headquarters of the White Tiger Regiment.

21) "The Volunteers have no fear of difficulties"
(Suona solo after Van Weicai's arias)
Sister Choi is astonished that the enemy has destroyed the wooden bridge that was over the ravine. In order not to have any deJay, Van promptly decides to climb the rope across the ravine.

22) "Dashing across the ravine"
The soldiers follow Van by climbing the rope across the ravine.

23) "The insuppressible spirit of the Volunteers"
Passing through various obstacles and natural barriers, the soldiers advance bravely to the raid on the White Tiger Regiment.

24) "Jumping through the window"
In the headquarters of the White Tiger Regiment, the Volunteers fight bravely against the enemy. Finally, they jump through the windows to pursue the fleeing enemy.

25) Finale: "Advancing on the Crest of Victory"
Fighting together shoulder-to-shoulder, the Chinese and Korean peoples and armies successfully fulfil the task of destroying the White Tiger Regiment, thus disrupting the enemy's deployment, and create favourable conditions for the grand counter-attack on all fronts. They will go on fighting and advance from victory to victory.

Gong Guotai, Arranger
Gong Guotai was born in the Chinese city of Henan in 1946 and studied at the Intermediate School of the Shanghai Conservatory before joining the Shanghai Peking Opera Company in 1966. He is a member of the Shanghai Drama Association, the Shanghai Opera Music Association and the Shanghai Musicians Association. His major compositions in the field of Peking Opera include Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy; On The Docks, In Praise of Longjiang, Glittering Fruits, and Wedding on the Execution Ground, the last two honoured by official awards in China.

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