The National Ballet of China gave an adaptation of classical opera, The Peony Pavilion, its European première at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, which has been extremely well-received.
This performance was shortened to just one hour and forty minutes, and was directed by Li Liuyi, choreographed by Fei Bo, and had music composed by Guo Wenjing. The original, or course, was written by the legendary Tang Xianzu in 1598, and lasted a total of 20 hours. Some audiences may have already seen the 2001, movie adaptation of this play, which was titled ‘Yóuyuán Jīngmèng’. However, whilst it might be easier to watch a movie version whilst checking emails or playing online games at the Chinese PartyPoker site, nothing quite compares to seeing pieces like this performed live. Indeed, this latest dance interpretation of The Peony Pavilion has been, for many, one of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
The plot of The Peony Pavilion follows a young girl who falls asleep and dreams of a man with whom she falls in love. Upon waking, she becomes obsessed with the man from her dream, and eventually dies of a broken heart. However, the president of the underworld judges that she is destined to marry the man she has seen, and so she is brought back to life in order to do so.
Audiences are said to have been particularly impressed by the stunning aesthetics of this particular production, which feature a number of traditional costumes, and draw on other typically Chinese styles of dance. The festival celebrates a wide range of performance art, and take places in Scotland’s capital city. This year’s festival director, Jonathan Mills, had chosen to include the production as one of the many examples of how Eastern culture has come to inspire much Western art.