An Introduction to the National Gouguang Opera Company On July 1, 1995, a group of superb opera actors, previously affiliated with the Lu Guang, Hai Guang, and Da Peng Peking opera troupes sponsored, respectively, by the army, navy, and air force, and with the Flying Horse Henan Opera Troupe, passed through strict examinations and came to the fore as the first national troupe—the National Guoguang Opera Company.
To open up a new chapter in Chinese opera history, Guoguang has subtly incorporated modern theatrical approaches into the plays to skillfully diversify traditional stage art and features. Following a path of innovation and variation, in addition to performing the traditional repertoire, the Guoguang troupe has been re-working and producing many excellent dramas. It is concerned about the famous classics, as well as new trends. For instance, "Mazu," "Jheng Cheng-Gung and Taiwan," and "Liao Tian-Ding," being completed as "The Taiwan Trilogy," are adaptations of Taiwan folk literature. This can be viewed as a characteristic contrary to that of traditional Peking opera in being a brand-new start to include common people"s livelihood in the plays. Guoguang further explored new themes to attract young audiences, and performed several popular and highly appreciated new plays, such as "Everlasting Love of Hairpin Ornaments" and "Cowherd, Weaver, and Sirius." They were all well received by audiences.
To strengthen the cross-strait cultural exchange of work on Peking opera, Guoguang not only cooperated on an equal footing with Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe and Peking Opera theaters in mainland China, but members also performed on the same stage with famous opera actors from the Peking Opera House of Tianjin and the Peking Opera House of Beijing. Such collaboration changed the tradition of single-troupe performance in China, and realized the interaction of Peking opera across the straits. In mid-autumn 2000, Guoguang performed three plays consecutively in Beijing; their performances fascinated the operatic circle in China. It was a breakthrough trip.
In order to achieve the goal of developing art in the local community, Guoguang founded "Guoguang Theatrical Shows," performing different plays on weekend afternoons for the public to attend in their leisure time. The shows have the dual function of fostering local literary and artistic customs, and promoting traditional opera.
Besides exploring new themes for operatic plays, the Guoguang troupe also expand its performing arenas to disseminate the art of traditional opera with good scripts. The footprints of Guoguang can be found everywhere, at venues as splendid as the National Theater, or as small as the outdoor stages established in front of temples. From the city to the country, indoors to outdoors, from the mountains to the sea, from the national to the international, Guoguang hopes that traditional opera can be appreciated in all places.
Gouguang is writing history whole-heartedly for the great legacy of traditional opera. At this critical moment, let us look forward to reviving the glory of this stage art, re-establishing our own reputation as a celebrated troupe, and planning the future for traditional opera.
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