Have you ever heard a symphonic version of traditional Taiwanese gezaixi opera? With generous funding from a local company, members of renowned gezaixi singer Huang Hsian-lien’s Lien Art Performance Workshop will be putting on a three-day performance at Greater Tainan’s Guijen Cultural Center starting this Friday.
As part of the Love City Tainan Chihsi Festival being held in Tainan until Aug. 26, Huang’s troupe was invited to perform The Butterfly Lovers — a well-known legend and traditional opera piece. Even more spectacular, though, is that the Tainan City Traditional Orchestra (TCTO) will be joining the troupe along with Chi Yu-cheng, who will be serving as music director. Chi says that many of the traditional melodies have been altered for their version, giving this classic story a new musical twist. Including the TCTO conductor and its members, 16 people from the orchestra will be accompanying the troupe for the performances, combining the four musical sections of traditional Chinese music — winds, bowed strings, plucked strings and percussion. Chi’s clever orchestration also adds the Western symphonic style of violins to the piece, giving traditional gezaixi an entirely new sound.
A local company, Xxentria Technology Materials Co, has contributed NT$6 million to the production. Cheng Hsien-sung, the company’s president, says that although gezaixi has existed among the Taiwanese and run the test of time, it has gradually been forgotten, going on to say that even though people still have many vivid memories of gezaixi, it is now unfortunately only seen in reruns played on television, which was why he decided to help revive the art form.
1. symphonic adj.
交響樂的 (jiao1 xiang3 yue4 de5)
例: Mussorgsky originally wrote Pictures at an Exhibition for the piano but later arranged a symphonic version of the piece, which is the version most people know.
2. percussion n.
打擊樂 (da3 ji2 yue4)
例: Timpani, tablas, and gongs are all percussion instruments.
3. rerun n.
重播的節目 (chong2 bo1 de5 jie2 mu4)
例: Reruns of the original Twilight Zone from 50 years ago are still broadcast around the globe.
Huang took a trip down south on Aug. 7 to take part in a promotional event for the her troupe’s upcoming performance of The Butterfly Lovers. She brought several troupe members with her, including Hsiao-mi, to perform at the event, earning enthusiastic applause from the crowd. Huang says she used to cry every time she watched Ivy Liang Bo in Love Eterne, a film adaptation of The Butterfly Lovers’ legend that was made in the 1960s. She says that her troupe has worked very hard to make this a grand production and welcomes the people of Tainan to share in all the excitement. Tickets are available free of charge.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)