World premiere in December 2018
By China National Opera House
Composer: Lao Zai
Libretto: Zhu Hai
Conductor: Yang Yang, Yuan Ding
Director: Cao Qijing
Set design: Ma Lianqing
Executive director: Shen Liang
Choir: China National Opera House Choir
Orchestra: China National Opera House Symphony Orchestra
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, Destiny describes the difficult struggle of urbanization in Luzhen town and the development of original Chinese brands by focusing on the growth of a group of characters.
The story starts in the early 1980s. Located in China’s Yangtze River Delta, Luzhen town relies on its two major industries: traditional dyeing and embroidery. Niu Haiyang, the town leader, plans to expand their dyeing business while embroiderer Zhao Xiaoyun chooses to make a living in Shenzhen city in South China’s Guangdong province with some of her peers.
After years of hard work, Zhao launches her own fashion brand in Shenzhen. When she returns to Luzhen, she is astounded to learn that the local dyeing industry, which provides craft support for her brand, has done great harm to the natural environment and people’s daily lives. After deep consideration, Zhao decides to reform her business and restore the green hills and clean waterways.
Mainly based on Zhejiang folk tunes and local operas, the performance uses multiple musical elements to promote its plot development. The prelude begins with a powerful melody to highlight these characters' shared destinies, followed by a lyrical adagio representing the tranquility of the southern Yangtze River Delta.
First appearing in the prelude, the enchanting theme melody The Tune of the Female Embroiderer is featured seven to eight times with subtle changes throughout the opera. It plays a crucial function in linking major scenes and strengthening the theme. For instance, when Zhao and her friends express their dream to create a fashion brand, the song leads into the actresses’ performance of The Yearn of a Button. The transition smoothly and clearly illustrates their transformation from migrant laborers to entrepreneurs. Mrs Scala, another important role, comes out during this moment and has a conflict with Zhao. Her excellent coloratura arias bring this arrogant and aggressive figure to life.
The ingenious mise en scene significantly broadens the spatial expression of the stage. The first half of the play takes excellent advantage of multimedia techniques to illustrate the heroine’s self-growth during a dozen years, excellently interweaving time and space.
The performance is attractive to both domestic and international audiences. Viewers witness the characters grow across a range of vividly depicted settings, including rustic Luzhen, bustling Shenzhen and Milan, which adds a global touch to this beautiful Chinese story.