Crowned China's first large-scale real-scene historical dance drama,
A Song of Everlasting Sorrow (SES)
reproduces the emotion and passion of the moving romantic story at the very scene where the story happened.
This breathtaking love story is performed on an outdoor stage set against the magnificent natural backdrop of the Lishan Mountain and on the Nine-Dragon Lake at the Huaqing Hot Spring, using elements of the existing ancient architectural complex such as pavilions, colonnades and weeping willows as part of scenery.
SES is the first dance drama that revives a historical masterpiece enduring through the ages as a dancing and singing performance of the Tang Dynasty at the very scene of its occurrence and lets the audience feel the everlasting charm of this love story.
Created and produced by Shaanxi Tourism Corporation Group, the drama features impressive performance and a fine cast of actors, dancers, acrobats and singers. It represents an outstanding example of how history and culture, nature and art, earthly world and fairyland, and tradition and modern elements can be combined in a successful way, creating a marvelous aesthetic effect.
The stage where it takes place is unique. The artists perform on the surface of a lake, where mountains and trees form the natural backdrop for the 1,000 square-meter water stage, which is set up slightly beneath the surface of the water and fixed on top of a mechanical lift. The show features almost 300 performers and boasts a 700 square-meter foldable soft LED screen (the largest in Asia), an Italian fragrant spreading system, laser effects, never ending fireworks, American fire-effect technology engulfing the water with brightly burning flames and Swiss high brightness video projectors creating a million flickering stars in a dream sky and fog rolling down a make-believe cascading waterfall. All these special effects are extremely realistic and it's very hard to convince yourself they are not: when the moon rises from behind the karsts, the only thing that proves that it is not really happening is the 'real' moon looking down from another corner of the sky.
The show is based on the poem of the same name by Tang Dynasty poet, Bai Juyi and tells the tragic love story of Xuanzong, an emperor during the Tang Dynasty and his beloved Yang Guifei, a concubine that was related to and coincided with the fall of the Tang Dynasty golden age.
SES has a prologue and nine acts belonging to four parts: Falling in Love, The Inseparable Couple, A Farewell to the Lover and Reunification in Fairyland.
The Young Lady of the Yang Family
This act tells of the first appearance of Yang Guifei. On the rippling surface of Nine Dragon Lake floats a white lotus blossom. Yang appears from inside the blossom dressed elegantly in a silk shawl. Against the dark sky, Yang flies gently like a fairy, bringing back the old days of Tang Dynasty.
Chosen to Attend to the Emperor
Emperor Xuanzong meets Yang for the first time and through her charm which outshines all the other ladies of the palace, he falls in love with her at first sight and bestows upon her a floral pattern gilded box as a token of his true love. A ceremony is held to confirm the title of concubine upon her. Against the blaze of light, the melody of music and the majestic palace, the Emperor and his new concubine drown themselves in a sea of happiness.
This a quiet and romantic act where Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei fall further and madly in love with one another. Under the midnight sky twinkling with stars, they whisper to each other, gaze at the milky way and frolic amongst the flowers.
Bathing in Huaqing Hot Springs
As the name suggests this is one of the more steamy acts. Yang wearing a thin chiffon gown, behind a waterfall curtain and accompanied by a group of court ladies, baths in the pool, to which she was granted use of by the Emperor.
The Palace of Mount Li Reaches up to the Sky
This act shows the peak of the Tang Dynasty's prosperity. Featuring grand heavenly music and majestic dance performances, amongst which there is also some tartar style dance that adds vitality to the Tang civilization and which Yang was very fond of.
Intoxication at the Jade Tower
After Yang becomes drunk at a banquet held in the Jade Tower, she falls into an intoxicating dance among the willow trees in the mist over a lazy stream. Gao Lishi, the Emperor's favourite eunuch, stands by ready to serve the drunken lady.
Heavenly Music Carried Far and Wide by the Wind
The Emperor and his concubine join each other in a dance amongst the glorious lands of the Imperial Palace at the foot of Mount Li, with the melodious music, elegant dancers and cheerful singers.
The Yuyang Battle Drums Shake the Earth
This is the climax of the play in which the Lushan rebels occupy Tongguan and overthrow the capital. The attacking soldiers pass through the audience onto the stage. The flame of war burns along the mountain. The happy life of the Emperor is interrupted and the love story comes to an end, along with the Tang Dynasty.
The Fallen Hairpin is Retrieved by No One
The Emperor flees with his Concubine. The soldiers demand the execution of Yang. Reluctantly, the Emperor has no choice, but to have his beloved hanged. Yang dies under the sad moonlit night. Sorrowful songs linger in the empty and cold valley.
The Union in Heaven or on Earth
In the Emperor's dream, he meet Yang again in an imaginary place where they hold each other's hands, exchange their lovesickness in tears and renew their love. Fairies in coloured silks dance to celebrate the couple's reunification. Doves fly into the air sealing what they had vowed to each other: "in the sky, we'd be two lovebirds flying wing to wing; on earth, two trees with branches twined from spring to spring." The story ends with Yang 'walking into the light' and Emperor Tang performing a very sad dance.
The Creative Team
Zhang Xiaoke - Producer in Chief
Xue Lina - Director in Chief
Li Hanzhong - Director in Chief, Art Director
Si Wenhu, Ji Zhe, Zhang Lie - Music Composers
Ma Bo - Dance Director
Chen Jianming - Lighting Designer
Zeng Wentong - Stage Designer
Huang Zhiqiang - Costume Designer
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