Original is best for Wagner's bicentenary
Updated: 2013-07-05 07:22
By Sun Ye (China Daily)
A stage design sketch of the China National Opera House's Die Walkure. Provided to China Daily
Don't worry if you can't make it to Bavaria for Wagner's bicentenary - if you stay in Beijing, you could catch China's first rendition of Die Walkure, a production that promises to do justice to the original.
With an all-Chinese cast and production team, Die Walkure will be the closing act in this year's Opera Festival at the National Center for the Performing Arts this weekend.
As the second installment of the Ring operas, Die Walkure will be staged by the China National Opera House, whose Tannhauser closed last year's NCPA Opera Festival to rave reviews.
"This is what all of us have been aspiring to," says Yu Feng, conductor, artistic director and president of CNOH. "It's an honor for performers. Die Walkure will be one unprecedented milestone in the country's history of music.
"It's all our own work, down to the smallest nail. We are all elated."
The opera house has chosen to perform the debut as "authentic and true to its original spirit", doing away with pantomimes and other modern influences.
"It's all in line with Wagner's time. We've arranged it exactly the way he instructed," Yu says. "There will be no skimping or out-of-the-box creativity for its first appearance in the country. We respect history and want to show the romantic masterpiece as it is. "
For four hours, 14 actors will perform the legendary opera to tell a story that plays out between restless humans and reserved gods.
Scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm, the three-act piece will likely end after midnight. But the actors say the long performance is not physically straining.
"We can play seven days in a stretch. There is no problem at all," Wang Wei says. "We are used to rehearsing 40, 50 times for one correct pronunciation."
The soprano in the role of Brunnhilde will sing both nights.
Ruan Yuqun, who plays the expressive Sieglinde, says she's never been better prepared. "We're in top shape. We rehearse the complete version more than once every day. It's such an encouragement to play Die Walkure."
CNOH plans to continue with other installments in the Ring series over the coming three years. "It could become our repertoire that inaugurates the new opera house in 2015," Yu says.
The NCPA Opera Festival that started this April has staged Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander. It has also put up other NCPA-produced operas, including Otello, Nabucco and Xi Shi.