Italian, Chinese artists offer special performance of Goethe's 'Faust'

Updated 2017-03-13 10:25:47 Xinhua

Take a famous European literary work, put artists from Italy, China and Germany together on it, and finally add ancient and modern music traditions. From such path, a new experimental play was born and put on major stage of the Italian capital -- the Argentina Theatre -- from Tuesday to Sunday this week.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe's masterpiece “Faust” tale was performed by the artists of the Peking Opera, with music and arrangements from both Italian and Chinese composers.

The play is a co-production between Italy's Emilia Romagna Theatre Foundation and the China National Peking Opera, and was born out of an idea of German director Anna Peschke in 2014.

Authors include Chinese playwright Li Meini, and director Xu Mengke, Italian composers Luigi Ceccarelli and Alessandro Cipriani, and Chinese composer Chen Xiaoman.

The experiment marked the first partnership of the kind, with a European tale put on stage by Peking Opera artists, and foreign composers cooperating with a Chinese colleague to try to create “a new language.”

“We come from a different musical culture, so we had to study the tradition of the Chinese Opera theatre,” Cipriani told Xinhua.

“This means we had to understand deeply what were the possibilities of building a bridge between our work -- as contemporary composers, who work with electronic music -- and, at the same time, to be close to a very different way of making music.”

Since its debut in the city of Bologna in Oct. 2015, the play has been performed some 80 times across Italy, and was shown in Beijing and New York as well. In mid-May, it will be performed for 13 days in Germany.

Rehearsal and set up of the play were all developed in China, organizers said. The four Chinese actors on the stage were accompanied by seven musicians, three of which Italians and four Chinese.

While taking the form of Peking Opera, this production of the “Faust” tried to keep aesthetics and storytelling traditions from both the West and the East together. As such -- besides being up to the beauty of such a renowned tale -- a major artistic challenge was to find a “new language” between the refined art of the Peking Opera and Western modern music.

“When you meet a new culture, you find different standards, and you realize that your rules are just arbitrary, in some way... The wonderful thing is being able to find those new rules that put all things together,” composer Ceccarelli told Xinhua.

“It has been a hard job, yet in some way technology was of help, because with electronic music it is much easier to bring together sounds that are very different from each other,” he added.

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