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New Peking opera tells stories of the Silk Road

A new Peking opera telling stories of the ancient Silk Road has premiered at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA).

Bond of Silk has been coproduced by the NCPA and the National Peking opera Company. It is quintessentially Chinese, both in content and aesthetics, and it shows how a rebuilding of the Silk Road can affect the destiny of the whole nation.

Set during the mighty Tang Dynasty, Bond of Silk is centered on Emperor Taizong’s decision to reopen the ancient trade route, in order to increase stability and national unity.

The Silk Road was first initiated in the Han dynasty, connecting China with Europe and the Middle East. It was closed and reopened three times before Emperor Taizong gave the order to reopen it.

“Like the Chinese title Silk Road and the Great Wall, the Silk Road’ symbolizes the country’s soft power, while the Great Wall represents the country’s hard power. National prosperity must be achieved on the basis of supreme integration of hard and soft power. That’s the theme of this drama,” said Chen Weiya, director of Bond of Silk.

There are dual storylines, one featuring the emperor and one featuring an ordinary women. Both the fate of the nation and the fate of each individual are closely linked.

The two lead roles are played by established Peking opera singers Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu.

Yu plays Emperor Taizong, the first and probably most noted ruler of the Tang Dynasty. His decision to rebuild the Silk Road led to the golden era of the Silk Road under the Tang reign.

“It’s my first collaboration as a Peking opera singer with famous director Chen Weiya. He brings fresh air to the quintessential art of China that we have to communicate, to learn and to absorb. The music is also a highlight. To showcase the cultural diversity along the Silk Road, you will notice music from Western Regions, Persia and folk songs,” Yu said.

Bond of Silk is the third Peking opera created by the NCPA, following Red Cliff in 2008 and You and Me in 2013. It runs at the NCPA until Dec 24.