Tang and Four Dreams
  • By Elaine C
  • |
  • 2nd Sep 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★

Tang and Four Dreams are presented by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The fundamental love story between Tang Xianzu and his wife Madam Wu is extremely bittersweet. As he goes away to improve their social ranking and is working hard events change everything he once knew into total disarray, life as he knew it is never going to be the same again!The Chinese Chamber Musical is based on the semi-autobiographical story by Tang Xianzu the famed Chinese Literaturary playwright during the Ming Dynasty. He is known as the Shakespeare of Eastern Theatre, as they wrote during the same period.

I admired the work that had taken place

Composer Xu Jianqiang combines traditional Chinese musical instruments alongside up-to-date musical scores. The solo piece performed by Lu Jie playing a suona was an unusual sound to my ears and seemed to almost screech. However, the audience predominantly attended by Chinese Theatre goers applauded loudly and appreciated what they heard.

Screens either side of the stage were used during the performance to display the subtitls which were not as in-depth as the stage dialogue or so it appeared to be. The storyline was clear though and you could see what was taking place on stage.

During certain parts of the production, I became lost in translation as attempting to read the subtitles, following the actors and watching the motion picture on the film screen started to merge.

Costume designer Dong Guiying has created an impressive collection of designs. Predominantly grey and black with additional reds, green and blue details. The silvery grey really shone in the stage lighting. The design features were typically Chinese and they all looked stunning on stage. Even the orchestra had matching grey outfits the harmony in colours worked very well.

The entire production was very well produced and each of the performers held a strong presence on the stage. Although as I said parts were lost to me in translation. I admired the work that had taken place in order to bring to the stage this new musical performance.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Tang and Four Dreams applies a “play within a play” storyline, delivering a contemporary interpretation of Tang Xianzu,who’s widely known as “Shakespeare of the East”. In the Ming Dynasty part, several important episodes in Tang’s life are selected to accompany his composition of the renowned Four Dreams in Linchuan. In the modern part, a young woman named Xin’an, with the help of Daydream, tries to search for the meaning of the key sentence “Where does love arise? It wells up from the deep” written by Tang Xianzu in his masterpiece The Peony Pavilion. In this play, Du Li-niang (the heroine created by Tang) embodies his unswerving commitment to ideals and love, and was presented in the traditional artistic form of the Kunqu Opera.

This great love story constructed by composer Xu Jianqiang and lyricist Lin Zaiyong effectively showcase numerous facets of Chinese culture and the 16th-century Chinese literature for contemporary audience. You will find a strong Chinese national flavor in the play, combining traditional Chinese musical instruments with strings and pianoforte of the west; coupled with live multi-medias, it well integrates both the modern and the traditional.

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