February 5, 2015 Charlotte NC USA. By Weihong Yan

英文撰稿: 约翰•摩根 (閻偉紅)

中文翻譯: 约翰•摩根 (閻偉紅)


Chinese Calligraphy Brings New Life to Opera Carolina’s “Turandot"

By Weihong Yan, English & Chinese

“Turandot” is a Persian word and name meaning “the daughter of Turan”, and was the title Puccini gave to his final opera before he died in 1924, and before the opera was finished. Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas are among the most important in the 300 year span of Italian Operas. He was born on December 22, 1858 and died on November 29, 1924, and has been called "the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi.” 

Phillip Larrimore reported in the Charlotte Observer that, “’Turandot’ is the story of the legendary ice princess, Turandot, beautiful beyond compare, who puts her suitors to the test of three riddles, and then who has them beheaded when they cannot answer them. Finally after murder and mayhem, she is bested by an Unknown Prince (Calaf) and the power of love. Puccini, who knew that he was dying, wrote some of his most rapturous and urgent music for ‘Turandot’. The battery of gongs, xylophones, and chimes that he uses to portray a fabled Peking gives the orchestration ominousness and sumptuousness unlike anything else. The writing for chorus is Puccini at his most atmospheric. The arias include ‘Nessun Dorma’, the most famous tenor aria of them all.”


Turandot‘s beauty was attracted by Prince Calaf, exiled Tartar prince, despite Liu and his father's opposition, he answered all the questions, and three riddles which are "hope", "blood" and "Turandot." 

For those who have never gone to an opera house, who could even know the famous aria “Nessun Dorma/None Shall Sleep.” In 1920, Puccini was searching for a new topic for an opera and was considering two stories, one involving one of the characters in Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” or with Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” Puccini was not pleased with what he produced, as he wanted to have something new, perhaps based on a fairy take. He finally adopted a work by Carlo Gozzi, who was an 18th-Century Venetian author best known for his collection of stories entitled “Fabia” (“Fables”). The “Turandot” story was from a collection of Persian tales. Persia was once invaded and occupied by the Chinese under Genghis Khan, with the result that and certain Chinese culture and folk tales and legends passed into the lore of the Middle East, with the best-known example being “Aladdin.” 

Puccini incorporated actual Chinese melodies into the score of Turandot. The Baron Fassini Camossi, the former Italian diplomat to China, had given Puccini a music box as a gift, which played a number of Chinese melodies. Puccini used three of these in the opera, including the national hymn, and most memorably the melody “Mo-li-hua: (“Jasmine Flower”). 

Today, whether we are listening to a recording, or watching the opera in an Opera House or formal theater, every single musical note and design in the costumes are all distinctive Chinese style. The musical theme of "Jasmine Flower" is artfully integrated and creates a magnificent presentation. 

In Puccini’s final four years, he suffered severe illness, yet did a lot of research on Chinese literature, poetry, and folk music, as acting like a Sinologist. He said, "I was just like a scholar in the study of Chinese history and literature. There were too many details of Chinese life; it was more like a scholarly lecture on China." This is touched. 

Opera Carolina and Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, NC have collaborated since 2012. The first production of “Art to Poetry to Music” combined Chinese calligraphy with western opera and has been performed numerous times with great success. This January 2015, Opera Carolina launched “Turandot” with three performances at the Belk Theater in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte. This massive production was marvelous, and so far as we know, historically marked the first time Chinese calligraphy has been used in the Yuan Dynasty opera stage scenes. This artistic and creative use of calligraphy was entirely designed by Professor Weihong Yan, of Confucius Institute, and Michael Baumgarten, who is the Director of Production and Resident Lighting Designer at Opera Carolina. The collaboration is akin to the last few words of the opera – “love lights up the world.” 

The calligraphy works used were all created by the eminent Chinese calligrapher Professor Zhao Hong, Capital Normal University, Beijing. The calligraphy was written for Calaf, the son of Timur, portraying the aria lyric in the official script "Turandot," which was displayed on a giant screen, as well as in running script "blood" and "hope" of the lyrics for the riddles answers to Turandot. Having calligraphy displayed, created a dramatic contrast in which to view the entire atmosphere, and created a uniqueness that bathed this opera with authentic oriental color. 

Opera, which is just a story set to music, was created as entertainment for royalty, the wealthy and powerful, with luxurious productions in 17th Century Italy. These elaborate productions mixed music, dance, and magnificent processions with spectacular technical effects and extravagant costumes. Among opera-goers today you will find many upper class patrons and intellectuals, with a smattering of others who are curious or really interested. In the 21st Century, the opera stage, in spite of all the art forms, has changed a lot. However, combining Chinese calligraphy and Western opera, demonstrates an innovative art form that is unique and rare; although many people questioned the possibility of blending the Eastern and Western cultures. 

The collaboration between Opera Carolina and the Confucius Institute and have fully proven the successfulness of the combination of Chinese and Western art. It has created a new burst of energy and is a nascent sensation for the American community! Westerners have now seen the beauty of Chinese calligraphy for first time ever and see it as a totally different kind of art form. The concerts at Charlotte’s Knight Theater in the last two years are unforgettable, and the feedback from the community requires this exciting repertoire again! "A localized strategy to Chinese calligraphy needed to merge into today's western world, this is a very unique collaboration, what a great innovation it is!”" said Professor Yan. 

Yan said, "Thanks to Maestro James Meena, and Michael Baumgarten’s graphic design, because of their visions and collaboration, we had the opportunity to let our community enjoy and learn about Chinese calligraphy art. People never thought of combining calligraphy with opera, this creativity is historical, Chinese calligraphy through “Turandot” was gorgeous, and colored this opera, which was called the end of the Great Tradition of Italian opera in the 20th Century. ” 


“图兰多特”一词来自波斯语,意为“图兰的女儿”。《图兰多特(Turandot)》是意大利著名作曲家贾 科莫•普契尼(Giacomo Puccini)根据童话剧改编的三幕歌剧,是普契尼最伟大的作品之一,也是他 一生中最后一部作品。《图兰多特》讲述了一个西方人想象中的中国传奇故事。普契尼生于1858年 12月22日,死于1924年11月29日,意大利歌剧历经300多年,以《图兰多特》歌剧标志着19世纪辉煌 的意大利歌剧传统的终结,普契尼被称为“威尔第之后最伟大的意大利歌剧作曲家。” 

著名记者菲利普(Phillip Larrimore)在《夏洛特观察家》报中写道:“传说中的冰冷公主--图兰多特, 美丽动人无与伦比,求婚者猜对三个谜语,即可娶她为妻,众多人失败被斩首......。那时的普契尼 已经知道自己要离开人世,因此, 尽其全部精力投入对该歌剧的创作,为剧本写下了很多脍炙人口的 乐章和著名的咏叹调,精彩的合唱,当然也包括最著名的男高音咏叹调‘今夜无人入睡’”。 

流亡元朝的鞑靼王子卡拉夫(Calaf)与父亲帖木儿和侍女柳儿在北京城重逢后,即看到猜谜失败遭 处决的波斯王子和亲自监斩的图兰朵。卡拉夫王子被图兰朵公主的美貌吸引,不顾父亲、柳儿和三 位大臣的反对来应婚,答对了所有问题,原来这三道谜题的答案分别是“希望”、“鲜血”和“图兰朵”。 

即便没有在歌剧院观看过歌剧的人们,也都知道一首著名男高音咏叹调“今夜无人入睡(Nesson Durma!/None shall sleep!)这首咏叹调出自意大利作曲家普契尼的歌剧(Giacomo Puccini)的歌剧 《图兰多特》(Turandot)。1920年普契尼在寻找一个歌剧的新题材。他企图将狄更斯的《雾都孤 儿》(Oliver Twist)和莎士比亚的《馴悍記》(The Taming of the Shrew)这两部作品的人物故事结 合在一起写成一部歌剧,然而,普契尼对他的这个思路并不满意,他希望一个具有创新意识的作品 能出现。 他最后选了卡洛·戈齐( Carlo Gozzi ),一位18世纪最著名的威尼斯作家,代表作有著名“ 法比亚”寓言。“图兰多特”的故事来自波斯国,波斯曾经被成吉思汗大帝侵占,战争也带来了文明 的传播,元朝对波斯的占领,随之将中国文化带到了那里,民间故事和传说传到中东,例如“阿拉丁 Arabian Nights/”。(《一千零一夜》) 

普契尼把地道的中国音乐写入他的这部歌剧中。意大利前外交官Fassini Camossi男爵从中国回来后 送给普契尼一个八音盒作为礼物,这音乐盒可播放很多中国音乐。普契尼将这些音乐用于歌剧中, 其中包括他为歌剧中谱写的“中国国歌”,还有那最难忘的旋律(”茉莉花“),他还自己谱写了很多 自认为是中国风格的音乐。 

我们今天无论是聆听这部歌剧的录音还是在歌剧院身临其境观看这部歌剧,歌剧中的每个音符,演 员们的服装风格无不鲜明展示中华文化的元素,尤其是那首脍炙人口的“茉莉花”乐曲,沁人心扉。 

普契尼在他生命的最后4年,疾病缠身,他几乎是作为一个汉学家(Sinologist)去研究中国的文学、 诗歌和民间音乐等等。他说:”我简直就像一个学者一样在研究中国历史和文学”,令人感动。 

美国夏洛特卡罗莱纳歌剧院 (Opera Carolina) 与我费佛尔大学孔子学院2012年合作以来,歌剧指挥家 James Meena与闫伟红教授精心策划过数场“中西合璧,翰墨华韵”书法与歌剧演出,获得空前的巨大 成功。卡罗莱纳歌剧院日前在夏洛特 布卢门索尔表演艺术中心 (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center ) 的贝尔克剧院 (Belk Theater)歌剧院上演了三场大型三幕歌剧《图兰多特》, 在社区引起了轰动。在 这次演出中,我们首次将中国书法运用于歌剧的大场面布景中,以中国书法来衬托这一讲述中国元 朝的剧情故事,实为恰到好处, 具有历史性创举。他们的设计者为孔子学院院长以及歌剧院灯光设 计师 迈克尔·鲍姆加滕联合设计。他们的合作正如歌剧结尾所说那样:“爱点亮了世界“。 

我们邀请了中国书法泰斗欧阳中石弟子首都师范大学书法家赵宏教授为歌剧书写了咏叹调中的最核 心的相关歌词, 例如: 鞑靼王子卡拉夫(Calaf) 答对了的谜题的三个答案“希望”、“鲜血”和“图兰 多特”。 

17世纪歌剧的诞生是欧洲皇家王室奢侈的产物, 歌剧起源带着财富和权利的浓重色彩,那时, 皇室的婚庆中,歌剧是必不可少的。(图(3) 为1604年的巴黎歌剧院,华丽程度令人惊 讶!)。歌剧是艺术的综合体,它集文学、音乐、舞蹈、服装、光技术等为一体。今天的歌剧院依然是那些社会的上等阶层、知识分子和歌剧迷 所常常光顾之地。进入21世纪,歌剧舞台所有的艺术形式尽管变革了很多,然而,中国书法与西洋 歌剧相结合,展示出创新的艺术形式可谓罕见,人们担心并发问这类东西方文化的交融可能吗? 

2012年以来,我们与卡罗莱纳歌剧院合作的“中西合璧,翰墨華韵ART TO POETRY TO MUSIC”系 列大型演出,以事实充分证明了中西艺术的结合,它所迸发出的新的魅力轰动了美国社区!西方人 第一次看到了中国书法之美与世界任何一种艺术竟全然不同!以至于去年在美国夏洛特骑士歌剧院 演出的“中西合璧,翰墨華韵”让美国当地社区人民难以忘怀,他们呼吁歌剧院与费佛尔大学孔子学 院再次上演这一激动人心的剧目!闫院长谈到这一项目时说道:“书法需要与世界艺术融合!中国 书法需要以本土化战略真正走出中国, 走入世界,这一项目属于世界首创,一个非常好的创新!”。 

闫院长说道:“感谢著名指挥家James Meena 院长和Michael Baumgarten, 由于他们的远见卓识,使 得中国书法有机会向美国的公众展示它的美丽和魅力。人们从未想到书法可以与歌剧结合,这一创 意具有历史性,中国书法用于被称之为19世纪西方歌剧传统尾声的唯一代表作《图兰多特》之中, 为书法与歌剧增添了更加华丽的色彩”。