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Adaptation of “Dream of the Red Chamber” performed at SFOpera

It was a week before the premiere, and Bright Sheng, the composer and co-librettist of the new opera "Dream of the Red Chamber," was already bracing for the backlash.

在距离首演还有一周的时候,新歌剧《红楼梦》的主创人员之一盛宗亮已经迎来了反对的声音。

Bao Yu (the tenor Yijie Shi) and Dai Yu (the South Korean soprano Pureum Jo)

Randall Nakano (The Monk/Dreamer)


Irene Roberts (Bao Chai) and Yanyu Guo (Aunt Xue)


Qiulin Zhang (Granny Jia) and Pureum Jo (Dai Yu)


Hyona Kim (Lady Wang)


To create his version of Cao Xueqin's sprawling 18th-century classic about the decline of an aristocratic family in imperial China, Mr. Sheng reduced the book to its bare bones. The novel — over 2,400 pages in its standard English translation, twice as long as "War and Peace" — is told in a mere two hours and 20 minutes. Hundreds of characters have been cut, leaving just eight main figures in the final show, which runs from Saturday through Sept. 29 at San Francisco Opera.

在改编这部讲述封建中国贵族家族之没落的经典文学作品时,盛宗亮将其浓缩至只剩下基本骨架。歌剧《红楼梦》只用了短短2小时20分钟来讲述这部小说的故事。数以百计的角色被去掉,最后只留下8个主要人物。这部歌剧从9月10日至29日在旧金山歌剧院下辖的旧金山战争纪念歌剧院上演。

The book's many die-hard fans may not be pleased.

《红楼梦》的许多粉丝也许会感到不快。

"You can't win with this, no matter what you do," Mr. Sheng said after a recent rehearsal. "People will love you or hate you."

但盛宗亮在最近一次排练后说:"不管怎么努力,总会有人喜欢,有人讨厌。"

Lin Daiyu acted by Chen Xiaoxu made the character a classic. 

Such are the perils of adapting any beloved story. And to many in the Chinese-speaking world, "Dream of the Red Chamber" is that and more, widely regarded as a masterpiece — if not the masterpiece — of Chinese literature. Realizing the inevitable weight of expectations, the San Francisco Opera enlisted a team of creative heavyweights, all of Asian descent, to create the $3 million production.

这就是改编经典故事的风险。对华语世界中的许多人来说,改编《红楼梦》风险更大。它被很多人视为中国古典文学的代表作之一。旧金山歌剧院意识到了歌剧《红楼梦》势必会激发很高的期望值,于是招募了一支由华人组成的重量级主创团队来打造这部耗资300万美元的作品。

Mr. Sheng wrote the libretto with David Henry Hwang, the Tony Award-winning playwright. Stan Lai, an acclaimed playwright and director, has staged the work, and Tim Yip, who won an Academy Award for art direction for his work on Ang Lee's film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," has designed the sets and costumes. The opera will be sung in English and accompanied by supertitles in English and Chinese.

剧本由盛宗亮和荣获过美国托尼奖的剧作家黄哲伦共同完成。知名导演赖声川执导,而曾凭《卧虎藏龙》荣获奥斯卡最佳美术设计奖的叶锦添负责设计背景和服装。这部歌剧将用英文演出,并配以中英文字幕。

"We wanted it to have its own authenticity as a piece of operatic story-telling," said Matthew Shilvock, San Francisco Opera's new general director. "But we also wanted it to be something that would resonate with people who grew up with and love the novel, as well."

旧金山歌剧院新任院长马修•希尔沃克说:"作为一部用歌剧形式讲故事的作品,我们希望它有自己的原创性。但我们也希望在那些喜爱这部小说的人当中引起共鸣。"

A number of Chinese-Western amalgam operas have been created in recent years. Many of these, including the Metropolitan Opera's "First Emperor," the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Madame White Snake" and even the San Francisco Opera's "The Bonesetter's Daughter" have struggled to enter the repertory.

近年来有不少中西融合的歌剧问世。其中大部分都没能成为保留剧目,包括登上大都会歌剧院舞台的《秦始皇》、荣获普利策音乐奖的《白蛇传》等。

Still, Mr. Shilvock said, presenting new work "also has great potential to attract excitement in a way that the standard repertory piece doesn't always."

不过希尔沃克说,推出新作品"具有激发热情的巨大潜力,而传统保留剧目并非总能做到这一点"。

With "Dream of the Red Chamber," the company is seeking to tap a growing interest in Western-style opera among Asians and Asian-Americans in the Bay Area. The production arrives eight years after San Francisco Opera's highly successful premiere run of "The Bonesetter's Daughter," based on Amy Tan's novel about a Chinese-American family.

旧金山歌剧院希望利用歌剧《红楼梦》激发亚洲人和亚裔美国人对西方歌剧的兴趣。在推出这部作品8年前,旧金山歌剧院曾把谭恩美讲述华裔移民家庭故事的小说改编成同名歌剧《接骨师之女》,并在首演时大获成功。

Not long after "The Bonesetter's Daughter," the Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation approached Mr. Gockley about adapting "Dream of the Red Chamber." 

在《接骨师之女》上演后不久,总部设在美国明尼阿波利斯的一家企业就与旧金山歌剧院的时任院长戴维•戈克利接洽了改编《红楼梦》的事宜。

In March, the opera will travel to the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which co-produced the work, and may tour elsewhere in Asia. Plans are already underway to translate the libretto into the classical Chinese in which the novel was originally written.

明年3月,歌剧《红楼梦》将远赴香港艺术节进行演出,还有可能在亚洲其他地区巡演。此外,将歌剧剧本译成中文的计划已经启动。

The opera may then face a tougher, more discerning audience among those even more familiar with the book, but Mr. Sheng seemed unfazed.

届时这部歌剧也许将在更加熟悉原著的观众当中面临严格而挑剔的目光,但盛宗亮似乎并不为此感到苦恼。

"If you ask 10 different Redologists what the novel is about, they would give you 10 different answers," he said. "And if anyone asks me what this opera is about, I'll say it's a story of a love triangle. That's it."

他说:"如果你问10个'红学家'这部小说讲的是什么,他们会给你10个不同的答案。如果有人问我这部歌剧讲的是什么,我会说,这是一个关于三角恋的故事。"

Source: New York Times

2016-09-14

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