Original Opera “The Morning Bell” of the Shanghai Opera House

As an important part of the mainstream concert repertoire of the Shanghai International Art Festival in China in 2018, the opera “The Morning Bell” that was originally produced by the Shanghai Opera House talks about the story of the main founder of the Communist Party of China, Dazhao Li, who shows the revolutionary martyrs how to explore the truth for the nation and for communism. In order to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, the opera “The Morning Bell” is not only a tribute to the revolutionary pioneers but is also dedicated to the artistic inheritance of the red genes of Shanghai, not forgetting the mission of remembering the heart and singing the communist songs together.

The Shanghai Opera House has invited several master artists of the domestic stage drama field and created a strong team. In addition to the screenwriter Yuan Yao, the director Zongqi Hu, and the dance design Kaifu Huang, the composer Shuya Xu, the conductor Guoyong Zhang, the lighting design Shunchang Zhang, the clothing design Xiaomin Mo, and the modeling design Xiao Xiaomei Min, are all local artists who have won an excellent reputation in the industry for many years. The Shanghai music industry has lacked in the creation of original opera music for many years.

The composer Shuya Xu carefully controlled the overall music style of “The Morning Bell.” First, considering the spread of communism in Shanghai and the importance of the establishment of the Communist Party of China, Shuya Xu chose the musical style of Shanghai Style in the important passages such as “Improving the Country” and “Meeting the Party”; second, combining the drama with the regional and character characteristics of the main characters, “The Morning Bell” absorbed a wealth of national folk music elements. The national elements of Shuya Xu's works in the whole operatic structure and writing techniques ensure the consistency of the personality of the characters and the characteristics of the times, taking into account the unity of the overall musical temperament.


The Morning Bell


Under the careful guidance of the director Zongqi Hu, the young actors of the Shanghai Opera House, such as Haolei Yu, Xiaoying Xu, and Yao Zheng, who played the main role, showed great skill in artistic expression and were widely recognized and praised by the audience. Dazhao Li returned to Shanghai to seek a way to save the country and opened up the glory of pursuing an ideal life. However, he also experienced painful opposition that was different from that of his friend. Shizhao Zhang, who advocated gradual progress during social reform, and Xianghong Liu, who was “kidnapped” by traditional cultural dross, killed Zuolin Zhang, who is the warlord who cuts the ruling. These passages not only require solid singing skills, but also a deep expression of the inner struggle and firm pursuit of the characters. The younger generation of vocal actors of the Shanghai Opera House provided a satisfactory answer. “It is a privilege for contemporary youth to pay tribute to the youth a hundred years ago.”

At the same time, the powerful stage and powerful music impressed everyone who admired “The Morning Bell.” “The stage is ingenious and very simple. I think that is what a solemn work should look like.” An audience member who watched the premiere said, “The feelings contained in the opera touched me very much. It is a kind of ideal and expresses faith. The feelings of the revolution are the revolutionary feelings of every aspiring young man in that magnificent era.”

“In the 110 minutes of the entire drama, the teachers and students watched, felt very invested, and gave warm applause after each aria. Everyone deeply felt that there is a kind of sentiment in this original opera, a pursuit of ideals. The feeling of the supremacy of faith, a kind of feeling of the revolutionary youth who belong to the magnificent years.” A teacher who walked into the campus performance expressed emotion, “‘The Morning Bell’ has strongly slammed the times’ sound. Let us not forget that the creation of the country was so difficult; let us firmly resolve to support it with the party. The professional and dedicated spirit of the Shanghai Opera artists also infected us.”

Since its premiere at the 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival in November 2018, “The Morning Bell” and its team have been in full swing in the 2019 tour, adhering to the concept of opera popularization and audience cultivation. They have appeared in the Zhoupu Cultural Center. The community's cultural performances such as the Fengxian Drama Festival will be performed at major universities across the country as an important part of the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement.