Soprano Dilber Yunus plays the leading female role in Chinese opera Visitors on the Snow Mountains. [PhotoChina Daily]
A famed soprano returns to her roots with Visitors on the Snow Mountains in an NCPA concert series next week.
Early Thursday afternoon Authentic Jonas Jerebko Jersey , a group of actors was busy working on the original Chinese opera, Visitors on the Snow Mountains, which will run from Wednesday to Sunday at the National Center for the Per-forming Arts.
In sharp contrast to the feverish NCPA rehearsal scene in the center of the room, soprano Dilber Yunus and composer Lei Lei sat quietly in a corner. With musical scores in hands, the soprano murmured the tunes while following the composer intensively.
The soprano, who is better-known by her stage name, simply Dilber, will play the leading female role in the opera, adapted from the popular Chinese movie with the same name.
Set in the early 1950s on the borders of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the 1963 movie directed by Zhao Xinshui involves the love story between a 16-year-old girl and a youngman, both from Xinjiang, and how they helped the soldiers of the People's Liberation Army suppress spies.
"The movie is classic, especially one of the songs: Why Are the Flowers So Red. I watched the movie when I was little but I have never performed the songs myself," says Dilber. "It took lots of time to memorize all the lyrics and tunes and I couldn't fall asleep at night. I had to learn from zero."
The 56-year-old coloratura soprano has been hailed as the "nightingale" from China. She has achieved big success overseas by playing Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto and Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor over her 30-year career. Born in Kashgar, Xinjiang, she has been permanently signed by the National Opera House of Finland since 1988.
"When I was choosing the leading roles for this opera, Dilber's name came to my mind at once. With her great voice and exotic looks, she is the right one and the only one for the role," says the opera's director, Chen Xinyi. "When I told her that she would play a 16-year-old girl, she instantly gave me an innocent look and danced like a 16-year-old girl."
Dilber is excited about working with Chinese composers such as Lei Lei, the daughter of Lei Zhenbang, the composer of the movie version of Visitors on the Snow Mountain. "I was absolutely blown away by Lei Lei's music, which reminds me of my childhood in Xinjiang," Dilber says.
When Dilber learnedoperatic singing after being admitted to the Xinjiang Song and Dance Troupe in 1976, China had no original Western-style opera then. Her exceptional singing voice - which was trained by three renowned vocal educators, Guo Lingbi, ShenXiang and soprano Li Jinwei-allows her to express joy, sadness and anger in her singing without losing technical accuracy and balance.
Her first big break came in 1984when shewas studying at the department of vocal music and opera at Beijing's Central Music Conservatory. She won second prize in the prestigious Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in 1984 in Helsinki, Finland. Her talent also took her to sing with the Bonn Opera in Germany and Sweden's Malmo Opera. In 1997 and 1998, she was awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize for best opera singer.
Despite enjoying fame and success abroad, like many Chinese musicians, Dilber struggled with culture shock and homesickness while pursuing her career in foreign countries. The most challenging part, she says, was to master different languages, such as Italian, French andGerman.
"A Chinese person singing opera is like a foreigner performing Peking Opera. I have to speak the language like a native person first, and then I could understand the characters and present a convincing performance to the audience," she says.
In recent years, the soprano has turned her gaze back to her home country, both giving recitals and teaching at the China Conservatory of Music, Xinjiang Arts Institute and Xinjiang University since 2006.
On Friday, instead of singing in the opera, Dilber will perform in a concert given by the National NKOOrchestra Israel under the baton of Shalev Ad-El at the Great Hall of the People. She will sing Pamir My Beautiful Hometown, written by Chinese musician Zheng Qiufeng, and Voices of Spring and Mein Herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus, both from Johann Strauss II.
Starting from around three years ago, she has been busy with a project commissioned by Xinjiang's government, collecting ethnic folk music and training young ethnic folk musicians there.
"During my life in Europe, I rarely returned to my hometown and I often dreamed about the white poplar trees there," she says. "I have achieved my goals as a soprano, and the most important thing for me now is to give back to my country."
IF YOU GO
Chinese opera Visitors on Snow Mountain: 7:30 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
National Center for the Per-forming Arts.
2 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing.
Concert by National NKO Orchestra Israel under the baton of Shalev Ad-El: 7:30 pm, Friday.
Great Hall of the People, west of Tian'anmen Square.
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