Orient twist to Romeo and Juliet

A sophisticated, stylised and lyrical opera, The Peony Pavilion meant for the connoisseurs is rated as one of China’s best-loved classical operas.

The legendary play was brought to India by Swati Bhise, artistic director of Bravia Sadir Theatre Festival Production, who is also an acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer and choreographer. Her aim is to promote art and culture between the two neighbouring countries and develop friendly relations between the two.  The peony love attracted an audience which included corporate honchos, bureaucrats, distinguished members of Delhi society and young students from art and cultural institutions in Delhi.

Bhise, said, “I've always promoted art and culture in India. I have been promoting it through the Bravia Sadir Theatre festival which has been held in Goa in the past. Art is the finest way to bridge the cultural gap between the two great powers. Theatre and Art give us a deep understanding of the existing political, social and economic conditions of a country. It also gives an insight into the thought process of an entire ethnic group.This is a perfect platform to go global and continue our own personal growth and get better understanding of different cultures.

I am happy that it was so well received in Mumbai and Delhi. The audience is evolved and understands sophisticated art forms such as opera”.
The play was in Chinese, Zhang Yuanyuan played the lead female role of Juliet and Shao Zheng played Romeo. Though only loosely based on the work of Shakespeare, The Peony Pavilion show-cased a complicated love story which was set in the last days of the Southern Song Dynasty, which lasted from 1127 to 1279 AD.

It is hailed as the “mother” of a 100 opera forms. In its original form, the play, traditionally performed as a Kunqu opera, which is one of the oldest styles of Chinese theatre, runs for 20 hours and has 55 scenes, has been brought down to a 90-minute performance of key scenes without compromising on its essence.

The English translation, which captured the essence of the love story was displayed on a LED screen in the auditorium. The play was staged recently at the Siri Fort auditorium by 18 performers, all from mainland China. It was translated by Joanna Lee, an American-Chinese who has spent a lifetime on operas.

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