Opera Warriors: An Epic Spectacle

In yesterday’s post, I ranted about cultural appropriation. Today, I’m taking a different path. Cultural appreciation. For tonight I witnessed a splendiferous spectacle of musical madness.

The show in question was Opera Warriors and it hails from Beijing. In fact, tonight’s performance was the Canadian premiere. Performed by the Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble of Shanxi Academy of Arts, it tells the tale of love, power, passion and the Beijing Opera at the beginning of the 20th Century. Also, the creative team behind it was also in charge of the Beijing Olympics. So there’s that.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics were a miraculous spectacle and so was Opera Warriors. This makes sense, given that “spectacle” is one of the main types of theatre. What made this whole show more remarkable was its lack of dialogue. Apart from a few audible coughs and grunts the entire performance was wordless, opting instead to tell the story through traditional Chinese dance and music. While I do think it would have sounded better with a live orchestra, I can understand why the production didn’t go that route.

While the visuals were stunning and unlike anything you can imagine, the plot was a little hard to follow. My date for the night, JJ, felt the same way. While we both got the gist of the story – a tale of three brothers and a lust for power – at times it got a bit confusing trying to keep track of all the characters. However, it did all come together at the end. Plus, the Chinese consulate was there, so that’s pretty cool.

As you may have guessed if you read this blog with any regularity, I’m a bit of an arts hound. Okay, more than a bit. One thing I try to do when “covering” shows is engage myself in unfamiliar environments. That is why I was so excited about this show. It gave me the chance to experience something completely out of the norm for me. And to allow someone else to share in that with me. And Opera Warriors definitely didn’t disappoint. An epic spectacle for the ages.


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