On March 9th-14th, the NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) children’s opera commission Snow White graces the stage of the Multi-functional Theatre. On March 1st, Artistic Administration Head of the NCPA, WEI Lanfen, NCPA resident composer, CAI Dongzhen, librettist CAI Jiahan, and Swiss opera director, Stephan Grögler attended a press conference, discussing the children’s opera and provide details of its progress.
The NCPA launches a press conference for its third opera for children
Snow White is a classic fairytale celebrated worldwide. Generations of audiences have spent their lovely childhoods feeling enamored by its classic characters, the Princess Snow White, the Prince, and the Seven Dwarfs. Even today, these classic childhood companions continue to show their faces, jumping from the pages of the storybook and onto the opera stage.
Snow White will soon appear as the NCPA’s third commissioned children’s opera, following "Looking for the Most Beautiful Arias - Opera Gala for Children", and two other children’s operas, The Fisherman and the Goldfish and Effendi.
For composer, CAI Dongzhen, the creative process is about “rediscovering his inner child.” He notes, “In terms of making music, the librettist, creative team and I, all have to be like children ourselves, rediscover our inner child, become each of the characters we are creating, and feel each of their emotional changes personally. Once the piece has moved us, then we can move other kids in turn, and inspire them straight to their hearts.”
Librettist, CAI Jiahan sees special value in this children’s opera as a bridge for conveying thoughts on the idea of “love” to the audience. “Fairytales certainly aren’t just for kids, but every adult used to be one. So, whether a big kid or a little one, I hope this opera is a way to get them think about the pristine love.”
The NCPA invited Stephan Grögler to serve as stage director and set designer. He has cleverly employed mirrors and other scenery to build 12 complex sets for the brief 60 plus minutes of the performance. The various visual elements break out of the regular cartoonish characteristic of children’s operas, and have incorporated the modern elements younger audiences are more fond of.
Meanwhile, each visual detail and the staging of this opera exhibits Grögler’s thoughts into the classic fairytale. "In my opera career, I had the pleasure to work on a lot of very different children opera productions from very modern to the most "traditional" ones. For me there was always only one main goal to achieve : First of all, making the children connect to our story through pictures and emotions they know already but also making them discover other worlds to give them some impulse and mental space, so their fantasy world could get even more inspired and can develop a richer and more complex vocabulary. I’m convinced that children can understand even very complex issues from the moment that they are presented and spoken out in a certain way."
ZHANG Xin, NCPA resident artist, sings the title role at the press preview
At the press preview, opera singers taking part in Snow White’s first round of performances, NCPA resident artist ZHANG Xin, opera singers HU Wenhui, DUAN Nina, HU Yue, WANG Zenan and LI Yang, performed wonderful selections from the opera. The purity and kindness of Snow White, the bravery and resilience of the Prince, and the wickedness and envy of the Queen have all been expressed with different musical styles. The Seven Dwarfs, with their diverse personalities, play a crucial role of comic relief. In excerpts, such as “The Rainbow Kingdom” and “The Do Re Mi Bliss Song”, NCPA chorus members and opera singer, ZHAO Denghui, along with a wonderful chorus, have sculpted the adorable characters for the greater enjoyment of reporters.
Photos by GAO Shang