Pingju Opera “Mulan Joins the Army” Revamped as Musical Theater
The China Ping Opera Theater recently premiered its original Ping opera “Mulan Joins the Army” in Beijing, offering an innovative interpretation of the legendary tale of Mulan with a combination of modern and traditional expression forms.
Known for its literary operas, the Ping Opera has fully utilized its traditional advantage in “Mulan Joins the Army”, presenting an exquisite plot interpretation and character creation. The play’s director and screenwriter, Qi Ning, emphasized the importance of showcasing Mulan’s inner feelings about her family and country, as well as the desire for peace in a time of war.
While martial arts are not traditionally associated with Pingju opera, the theme of “Mulan Joins the Army” necessitated the inclusion of martial arts scenes. As a result, China Ping Theater brought in martial arts instructors to train the actors, ensuring realistic and compelling fight sequences.
The aria of “Mulan Joins the Army” also showcases rich genre characteristics, with the lead actor Zhang Qi embodying the artistic characteristics of the Li School of Pingju Opera. The play incorporates modern musical elements, utilizing traditional opera actors as choruses and including multiple duets presented through modern stage scheduling.
In terms of stage design, “Mulan Joins the Army” adopts a freehand and simple approach with a modern linear style. The geometric devices on stage symbolize the battlefield and also serve as seats for the actors and props as the plot progresses.
“We not only hope to maintain the essence of the opera, but also hope to let the audience see a refreshing way of expression,” stated Qi Ning, emphasizing the production’s commitment to revitalizing traditional opera while appealing to a modern audience.
Following its premiere, “Mulan Joins the Army” will continue to evolve based on audience feedback, with the aim of gaining recognition from traditional theater fans while also attracting a younger audience to appreciate the art of Pingju Opera in a new and innovative form.