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Chinese Modern Opera 01
Legend Of The Red Lantern

Legend Of The Red Lantern 01
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The Legend of the Red Lantern is one of the Eight model plays, the only operas and ballets permitted during the Cultural Revolution in China. The official Version was that of a Beijing Opera, it was additionally adapted to a piano-accompanied cantata by pianist Yin Chengzong formed by a cycle of arias extracted from the opera itself. Written during a time of political upheaval in China, the play has strong political overtones reflecting the times it was written in, it has nonetheless managed to remain popular to this day

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When Li Yuhe, a rail road worker who was engaging in underground work, was taken away by special agents and Grandma Li has a premonition of being arrested, Grandma tells Tiemei the true story about her family; she expects the girl to be a strong willed person just like her father. Grandma Li then tells Tiemei how her parents have sacrificed their lives in the revolutionary struggle. Li Yuhe has taken up the unfulfilled task of the martyrs. After hearing the heroic story about her family. Li Tiemei is determined to follow the example of her father and carry the revolution through to the end.

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The "Eight model plays" (simplified Chinese: 八个样板戏; pinyin: bā gè yàng bǎn xì) were the only operas and ballets that were permitted during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976). Although they were limited in number, there were in fact more than eight. They all have communist or revolutionary themes.

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The official versions of the operas were all Beijing operas and were produced by either the China Beijing Opera House or Shanghai Beijing Opera House, although many of them were subsequently adapted to local provincial species of operas. The ballets were produced by either the Central Ballet Troupe or Shanghai Ballet Troupe.

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In addition to the traditional format of Beijing opera, The Legend of the Red Lantern was adapted to a piano-accompanied cantata by the pianist Yin Chengzong, which was basically a cycle of arias excerpted from the opera. And Shajiabang was musically expanded to a symphony with a full Western orchestra, a format similar to the ninth symphony of Beethoven.

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Toward the end of the Cultural Revolution, the ballet Red Detachment of Women was adapted to a Beiing opera, and the Beijing opera The Azalea Mountain was adapted to a ballet, but they did not have a chance to become as popular as their earlier versions, and the ballet version of The Azalea Mountain never got officially released.

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Although these works bear unmistakable political overtones of the time when they were created, they nonetheless had significant artistic values, and for this reason, some of the works remain popular even today, nearly thirty years after the Cultural Revolution.

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The three most popular Beijing operas are The Legend of the Red Lantern, Shajiabang, and Taking the Tiger Mountain by Strategy. And the ballet that still shows a considerable vitality today is the Red Detachment of Women, the one that was presented to Richard Nixon, the thirty-seventh President of the United States, who visited China in 1972, seven years before the normalization of the Sino-US relationship. This performance was reenacted in a slightly surreal form in John Adams's opera Nixon in China (1985-87).

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The eight model plays were the subject of the 2005 documentary film Yang Ban Xi, The Eight Model Works.

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The "original" eight model plays, Beijing operas: The Legend of the Red Lantern, Shajiabang, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, Sweeping the White Tiger Regiment, The Harbor Ballets, The White Haired Girl, Red Detachment of Women, Symphony Shajiabang