Oct. 12, 2018 / Chengdu Opera

The songs we sing and stage we play on in eternity

I think life is about nuances, as if keeping up with and writing our own living history. Like words to a song or story that define who we are, how we live, and who we DSCI0412choose to become. From the earliest era, it has been the beat of the drum, bamboo flute, and other instruments, that we DSCI0369sang and danced to as we found our own natural rhythm. As if keeping tune with the universe, the stars above, and beating of one’s heart. The music has always been the anthem carrying the vibrations that convey, or tell, our emotions.  Creating a language beyond the need to speak or write defining one’s inner meaning and nature. It has always been the essence of connections, love and the voice of the poet and past.

As if we begin each life as an old song needing a new cover and for some looking for that lost love. As if a song needing some new stanzas to play serves to remind and refine us as the characters we get to play on our own stage. Perhaps only adding nuances, as if watching a movie several times seeing something new each time, as we add a new chapter or verse.  Do we build on the past, just begin anew, or maybe both? The choice seems 100_5777ours to make as we reconcile that which came before, with where we now go and who we will be when we get there. But it has always been the music, an internal beat from within, or rhythm we find that takes us there. Just as with the music we choose to play now that serves to define us, why shouldn’t we ourselves need several takes or “performances” to get it right. The best covers often play better than the original. As with the theater and life, we get to keep doing it until we get it right or the final curtain falls…or then does it? And we even get to 100_5778choose how we interpret the role we are here to play as our own living history and letting outcomes take care of themselves.

History is not just going to museums and remembering the past,  but seeing how things play out to the end. Why things happen are many times just as important as when. Why people acted or did things at the time tells us how popular culture defined the times. It is always the storyteller who leaves the trail, along many endless mediums. Someone did once say “the world is a stage.” We should at least learn to play our part. But I don’t think I’m quite ready to be a theater critic just yet.

It’s Friday, October 12th, I think if life is just the music we play, then since I’m in 100_5780Chengdu… a visit to the Chengdu Opera is in order, or we should say theater. To me opera is just a storyteller’s dream in song on stage acting things out. This afternoon I attended the theater. Attended by over two hundred people (mostly seniors) like me, this theater could be called “old school”. The story line was said to be hundreds of years old and portrayed Chinese interaction very well between the father 100_5787who asked 200 silver coins for the hand of his daughter, the poor student suitor she would meet and fall in love with at the Buddhist Temple and later marry, the matchmaker, and the foil, an older gentleman who had eyes for the young girl for himself who “gave” the suitor the money for the bride’s father… or so it seemed with the suitor getting the last laugh.

While they sang the story on stage, my friend relayed in English what was being said 100_5797and happening in every scene, as I took pictures. My friend Mr. 100_5790Lee, who invited me and did the interpretation said most foreigners don’t appreciate the older story lines as they don’t understand the “story behind the story” or Chinese history and it sometimes gets “lost in translation”.  I would have to admit that although I have never been much of a fan of opera, its probably because I didn’t think it appeals to me. What I didn’t know is like much we see in life, once I went I enjoyed both the story and amazing talent of those on stage. Much like the people just waiting to get to know us and for us them. Knowing the depth of our own story beforehand allows context that brings the music of both the theater and us to life.

I had the benefit of arriving an hour early and going backstage to meet the director 100_5775(who was also the leading character) 100_5771and watch as they put on their make-up, go over lines and sequencing of events. It was an education for me, and gaining appreciation for history and storytelling I hadn’t really considered. The director Mr. Fu, a stage veteran of more than 36 years, said variations of the performance called Lu Yao Zhi Ma Li, or “Mr. Lu Yao gets back at his classmate in a funny way”, have been told on stage well over a hundred years and this form of opera is over three hundred years old. My interest was certainly piqued, and I would come again…

By 1dandecarlo

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