The China National Peking Opera Company (CNPOC) returned to Britain for the fourth time, with the début of the classic opera River All Red on Saturday night attracting over 1,000 Chinese nationals and Londoners alike, and the classic play The Phoenix Returns Home, at London's Sadler's Wells this week.
This is the fourth time the CNPOC has brought productions to Britain, following its tours in 2005, 2015 and 2016.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of ambassadorial diplomatic relations between Britain and People’s China. With the troupe's first three tours well received by British audiences and critics, Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming called the troupe "a golden brand" for British–Chinese cultural exchange.
The performance of A River All Red in London is a reproduction of the classic opera about Yue Fei, one of China's most celebrated generals of the feudal era. It tells the tragic story of his resolute loyalty to the people and the throne even in the face of betrayal.
The opera presents all four fundamental elements of this performing art: singing, speaking, acting and fighting. The company has also made improvements on the original production by fine-tuning the tempo, adding more stage imagery effects with modern multimedia technology.
One member of the audience, Dylan Dryden, said the performance was extraordinary: "It is very very good, very classic – the costumes and the fashion expressions and the make up and the singing and story – it's very good, I don't understand the Mandarin but I read the story and it's very touching."
The opera's leading actor Yu Kuizhi said that after three British tours, the passionate engagement of the audience and the wide attention of the mainstream media have shown the cultural literacy and appreciation of the British audience and their strong interests in Chinese traditional culture.
As China's premier Peking Opera organisation, the CNPOC comprises celebrated performers, playwrights, directors, composers and stage designers. It has accumulated some of the finest repertoire of productions ranging over the wide diversity of Peking Opera performance styles as well as innovative pioneering works.