Since receiving the National Culture and Art Foundation’s National Award for Arts, renowned Taiwanese gezaixi opera singer Tang Mei-yun is currently busy promoting her troupe’s new annual masterpiece — Deathless Beauty. They invited scriptwriter Shih Ju-fang to pen the script, which puts a new twist on the classic anecdotes of the historical figure Cao Pi from the Three Kingdoms period, utilizing the Western theatrical method of adding a fictional character — a ghost — to express the psychological processes of Cao. This is also the first time that composer Lai Teh-ho has ever worked with Tang. Lai has arranged entirely new music for the work, expanding the art form’s palette. People in art and culture circles anxiously await the performance, which will take the stage in early October.
“Everyone knows about Cao Pi’s malicious personality, but they usually neglect what was going through his mind at the time.” Tang says that this is the main theme of the opera, a sense and sensibility look at the world of Cao Pi. “Cao Pi stood guard at the Bronze Sparrow Terrace, where he alone kept vigil over the body of his father Cao Cao, displaying the first signs of his budding political ambitions. Not long after Cao Pi became the ruler of the Cao Wei state, leaving behind his beloved wife.” Cao’s Yan Ge Xing, the first seven syllable per line poem ever written, is forever a gem in Chinese literature.
Tang says that Deathless Beauty is not an attempt to redress any of the miscarriages of justice for Cao, but rather a detailed retelling of his younger brother Cao Zhi’s Nymph of Luo River, and a journey though Cao Pi’s psychological state and literary imagination. The opera does not, however, offer a direct response to the question on the mind of the average audience member regarding the relationship between Cao Pi, Lady Zhen and Cao Zhi.
1. neglect v.
忽略；不顧 (hu1 lue4; bu2 gu4)
例: Neglecting the fact that it was snowing, she ran outside in shorts and a t-shirt.
2. ambition n.
野心 (ye3 xin1)
例: You’ll have to put your career ambitions on hold for a while and gain some work experience first.
3. maiden name n. phr.
閨名 (gui1 ming2)
例: These days more women are keeping their maiden name after they get married.
Coming from a family of gezaixi artists, Tang took her mother’s family name, not because her father did not cherish her, but because she was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, and her mother wanted to continue her own family’s ancestral lineage, so as the youngest child she was given her mother’s maiden name. “At the time a lot of families sent their children away to be raised by other families. When some of my older sisters were sent away my mom was quite sad, but she also expected her children to have a brighter future because of it.” As her troupe, the Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company, celebrates its 15th year, she says the troupe usually lacks the time to consider so many things at once since there is always a new opera to perform every year, but she still hopes they can teach gezaixi to more people and further popularize the art form in the future. Deathless Beauty will have four performances at the National Theater starting on Oct. 4.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)