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82029 - GONG: Shajiabang (Orchestral Highlights)
Revolutionary Operas and Ballets
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 epitomized 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, Shajiabang, Attacking the White Tiger Society, Harbour and The Cuckoo Mountain, while the two revolutionary ballets are The White-haired Girl and The Red Detachment of Women. These were considered models for the Chinese stage, proletarian revolution and the three elements of the Cultural Revolution, struggle, criticism and rehabilitation. Works in the same style soon appeared. These included In Praise of the Yimeng and In Praise of the Longjiang. An additional motive in their creation was also the possible elimination of political rivals connected with the Party Secretary of Beijing city, including Zhou Vang, Qi Vanming, Xia Van, 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 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.
Lam Ching Wah
The opera Shajiabang is set in the period of the War of Resistance against Japan. The town of Shajiabang served as the headquarters of the resistance. A group from the New Fourth Army had been fighting the enemy and had withdrawn from the Changsu area, leaving behind eighteen of their wounded. Responsible for their care was A Qing, a secret worker for the Party, while wounded were sheltered by the people of Shajiabang, with whom they had formed a very deep relationship. The Japanese invaders, however, were engaged in mopping-up operations, while Hu Chuanki and Diao Deyi, leaders of the so-called Loyal Patriotic Army, a reactionary organization, collaborated with the Japanese, taking orders from the Japanese Kuroda and doing their utmost to find the wounded men.
The political instructor Guo Jianguang led his wounded comrades to hide in the reeds of the marsh-land. Cut off from the outside world and without food or medicines, they faithfully followed the teaching of Chairman Mao, analyzing the situation of the enemy, resolving to banish all difficulties, keeping active, but waiting for a command, unmoved as a pine-tree in the storm. A Qing disguised her position by running a tea-house, exploiting the weaknesses of the enemy and in particular differences between Hu Chuanki and Diao Deyi.
Under the guidance of the Party and with the help of the base unit and the people, she overcame all difficulties and succeeded finally in transferring all the wounded. Once these men were out of danger, Hu Chuanki and Diao Deyi were furious and interrogated old Granny Sha and other revolutionaries from among the people in front of A Qing, attempting to destroy the Party organization in Shajiabang. A Qing and Granny Sha worked together to conceal Party activity, the latter abusing the enemy bitterly. At the same time the former took the opportunity of learning about the enemy dispositions.
A major force from the new Fourth Army, joined by the med now recovered, returned and marched East, forming a shock-troop and driving directly towards Shajiabang, where they captured the Japanese Kurodu and the traitors Hu Chuanki and Diao Deyi. The sun rose in the East: the red flag flew and Shajiabang was once again in the hands of the people.
 The Communist Party is like the sun in the sky.
 We will not give up an inch of the good mountain and river of the fatherland.
 You treat comrades as your own family.
 Thinking of the past. And Is their name Jiang or Wang?
This is an unusual woman. Whenever Diao Deyi has any evil ideas, he does not show it. This grass, nevertheless, is a wall against the storm. This woman's attitude is neither modest nor arrogant, her face shows neither brightness nor darkness. What is Diao Deyi doing? Is their surname Jiang or Wang?
 Flying far and high, so that they cannot be found.
 Lure the enemy to fire.
 Chairman Mao and the Central Party show the way to go.
 Looking forward to the triumphant return of the scouts.
 Learn to be that green pine on the top of Mount Taisan.
 Intermezzo -I will conquer the strong enemy and overcome all difficulties.
 The illness is not serious. Do not worry.
 Make use of an excuse so that I can go into the tigers' den to see
what they are up to.
 Shajiabang will be liberated one day.
 The army makes a sudden rapid attack on Shajiabang.
Shanghai Ballet Orchestra
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