The song Anping Capriccio has continued to be sung in Taiwan ever since it was first published in 1951, the music for which was composed by Hsu Shih with lyrics written in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) by Chen Ta-ju. It depicts the story of a woman from Tainan’s Anping area who had a love affair with a Dutch ship doctor at the end of the 19th century and the love story between their abandoned, golden-haired daughter and a sailor, echoing the plight of two generations — mother and daughter — as they drift along waiting. Although the lyricist said the lyrics were fictional, the soul-stirring motifs of the piece can be said to represent Taiwanese society’s development over the past century, its contact with the outside world, international relationships, as well as a desire to travel abroad.
The song’s music was an abundant source of inspiration for screenwriter Wang Yo-hui, who has reworked the plot with the love stories occurring in the ancient city of Tainan, adding the rise and decline of gezaixi, or Taiwanese opera, over the past century to the plot. The Shiu-Kim Taiwanese Opera Troupe, a local Tainan troupe, will be performing the adaptation, which premiered in Tainan last year. The work takes this piece of local folklore as its main theme, representing the sentiments shared by people of different generations. It is considered to be representative of gezaixi innovation and experimentation in the 21st century and has received endless accolades. This year it will take the stage at the National Theater, realizing the lifelong dream of the troupe’s director, Chang Shiu-kim, as well as the miracle of being able to take gezaixi, an art form usually performed on outdoor stages, to the National Theater’s stage.
1. sailor n.
船員 (chuan2 yuan2)
例: The sailor got married while on leave.
2. soul-stirring adj.
扣人心弦的 (kou4 ren2 xin1 xuan2 de5)
例: The politician’s soul-stirring speech won him thousands of votes in the recent election.
3. the rise and decline of
興衰 (xing1 shuai1)
例: Hollywood has seen the rise and decline of countless actors. (好萊塢見證無數演員的興衰。)
Wang says he has been experimenting and searching for a “gezaixi of the future.” He says, “I began in modern theater, and hope to differentiate gezaixi from Hoklo musicals, allowing this art form that transcends boundaries to go from being vivacious and lively to being elegant and refined.” Wang believes “neo-gezaixi” should utilize modern themes and hopefully preserve the original bold and powerful vitality of the gezaixi performance style, while at the same time combining it with the techniques of modern theater, so that fans of theater are given an entirely new listening experience. Anping Capriccio will be performed from May 4 to May 6 at the National Theater.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)