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Chinese Opera Spectacle

With “Farewell My Concubine” flora&fauanavisions took the story of ill-fated love, loss, abandonment and hope back to the Far East for the for the grand opening of the 21st Beijing Music Festival. Attended by government officials and sold out to over 1000 spectators daily, the show was a marvel of East meets West.

In a unique twist, internationally acclaimed director and long-term flora&faunavisions collaborator, Chen Shi-Zheng, updated the traditional Beijing Opera with plenty of spice, pizzazz, martial arts wizardry and cheeky Vegas glam, yet removed all props and stage design to focus on video and light as the sole aesthetic elements across a 10 metre long LED stage backdrop.

Considering the opera’s grand gestures, morals and emotions, it seemed only fitting to accompany the unravelling narrative with equally far-reaching and all-encompassing visual themes (fire, water, landscapes etc.) and references, forming a brand new guise, interpretation and visual style. For added impact, two key scenes received further input and depth by means of a thin sheet of gauze, stretched across the front of the stage, to serve as a divider, screen and canvas in one. The resulting play of layers - HD projections on the gauze behind the actors and thrown into sharp relief by strong LEDs - not only created added depth on stage, but also conjured up optical illusions, immersing actors in flora&faunavisions’ visual content for a tricky and delightful interplay of the senses. The software for running this immersive show was programmed by MEDIA DFKT - founded by our long-term art director, Shan Blume.

Dedicated shoots before the production served to splice in further actors, and even a horse, through the clever use of video and reflections. Extra visual effects included a mix of graphic and photorealistic elements, treated to imbue the slick and glossy production and LED features with an analogue, hand-crafted touch as a reminder of the story’s touchingly humane message.

Insights

A sincere thank you to Akira, our Japanese technical translator, who tanslated between Mandarin and English. Without him, it would’ve been impossible to have created the opera.

The hospitality in China also made an impression. We were served a three course dinner at 6 pm, thinking that that was our dinner, but that was only considered a snack and after the rehersals at 11 pm, we went for the ‘real dinner’. Our endless hot pot adventures will not be forgotten!

Credits

Client: Reignwood Theatre, Photos by Malte Ludwigs & Shan Blume
Client 2018: Beijing Music Festival

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