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The “Shakespeare of China” lands in the Sydney Opera House next month for a special one-off show. The original work, Tang Xianzu The Playwright In Concert will explore the life of China’s most iconic playwright Tang Xianzu through the medium of opera.

The show, directed by award-winning Chinese baritone Changyong Liao, combines stories from the life of Xianzu with narratives from his plays.

“To best fit with the narrative of Tang’s life, the opera focuses on Tang’s four most important works – if he’s the Shakespeare of the East, these are his Big Four,” Liao explains.

“The first two works are romantic stories, relating to what we understand as the supreme love and moral integrity; the other two are more realistic works, giving a panorama of society and the ups and downs of people’s lives in it.”

Liao says the stories chosen for the Opera have almost a “dreamlike” quality, which weaves well into the story of Xianzu’s life.

“From my eyes, maybe it’s due to the relevance to dreams in all four works that we name them the Four Dreams In Linchuan. From a certain point of view, Tang’s life as a playwright also reflects his own dreams coming true.”

The show will bring together the talents of over 100 musicians from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music’s Opera and Symphony orchestra. This is their debut performance in Sydney.

The conservatory’s goal is to translate ancient Chinese works for a contemporary audience, and their opera of the work of Xianzu epitomises this goal.

“He’s famous not only in poetry and prose but also for displaying creativeness in drama writing and always flying his own colours,” says Liao.

Apr 7. The Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point. $44-$149+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com

 

By Allison Hore