Soprano Li Jing Jing and conductor Tsung Yeh will head a large cast of performers in the Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s (SCO) adaptation of the Jing Xiang opera – a masterpiece that has already achieved canonical status in China.
‘Savage Land paints a very realistic picture of the bleak village life of early 20th century China – that was why our ancestors left China to come to Singapore!’ exclaims Yeh. ‘Coming to Nanyang meant to escape the inequality and lawlessness that made life in China so difficult. They arrived with hopes that their children can live well, without fear of persecution by the wealthy.’
Composed in 1987 and based on the Cao Yu novel of the same name that condemns the evils inherent in Chinese feudal society, the opera won an international compositional award in 1989 for its mix of modern compositional techniques, traditional Chinese influences and tear-jerking melodies.
Its blood-soaked plot follows the fugitive Chou Hu, who escapes from prison to hunt down the Machiavellian landlord who murdered his entire family, stole his fiancée and framed him for crimes he did not commit. Chou arrives at the mansion of his archenemy, only to find him dead and his son wedded to Chou’s love. Burning with rage, Chou butchers the man. The melodrama doesn’t end there. In the scuffle, the landlord’s blind wife tries to stop Chou – but she ends up killing her own grandson. And you thought your family was dysfunctional.