Rickshaw Boy is a classic Chinese novel written by Chinese literary and drama master Laoshe. 2017 marks the 118th anniversary of Mr. Laoshe’s birth, and the 80th anniversary of the publication of the novel Rickshaw Boy. From September 7th to 10th, NCPA opera commission Rickshaw Boy will be staged for the fourth time in honour of Laoshe, showing audience the charm of the old Beijing.
The black humour in the original work is retained and enhanced
The music in Rickshaw Boy
is composed by Chinese composer GUO Wenjing, which is a combination of Chinese and western cultural elements. The composer uses such musical materials as Peking Opera, folk songs and story-telling in Beijing dialect with drum accompaniment, as well as Chinese musical instruments like sanxian and suona in the music. Moreover, folk songs, quyi and vendor's cries are used to present the unique sounds of old Beijing. As for the libretto, the black humour in the original work is retained and enhanced, and the theatricality and storytelling become more intensive, the characterisation more artful.
Two female roles Huniu and Xiaofuzi
In terms of stage set, the visual mobility is achieved through the shift of scenes of old Beijing. The full-length shot-like scene transitions make the whole performance coherent and smooth. “This tragic story took place in the old and beautiful city Beijing. Inside this opera and its music, flows the blood of this city, as well as its sweet memories and stories that happened in the past.” said YI Liming, director and set designer of the opera.
This year, NCPA released the DVD version of this opera
After its premiere in 2014, Rickshaw Boy won widespread attention in China. Laoshe’s son SHU Yi said, “I think this adapted composition is in line with the original spirit.” In 2015, Rickshaw Boy toured Italy, where it received a warm welcome from the local people and media.