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Jianzhen Spirit Inspires Intercommunication Through Chinese Opera in New York

In 753 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese eminent monk Jianzhen finally arrived in Japan with Buddha dharma (Buddhist doctrine) and Chinese culture after 5 failed attempts. On June 22nd, 2019, the original Chinese opera Voyage to The East was performed at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center in New York. Over 2000 multi-ethnic audiences attended this grand event. Consul General Huang Ping and his wife Zhang Aiping, Vice President Xu Ning of China International Culture Association in Jiangsu Province, Deputy Chief Diversity Officer Linda Sun at Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Chairman Xu Chen of China General Chamber of Commerce USA, Vice President Jan Berris of National Committee on US-China Relations, and other mainstream personages from various industries in New York attended the reception and the premiere.

During the reception, Consul General Huang Ping delivered a speech. According to Huang Ping, more than 1200 years ago, Master Jianzhen overcame numerous difficulties and obstacles. He went on six voyages to Japan to spread Buddha dharma and Chinese civilization, which promoted cultural exchange and friendship between the two countries. Today, Jiangsu Performing Arts Group brought this wonderful Chinese legend to New York with nearly 200 performers. The story was told in the form of Western opera and presented at the world’s top arts center, the music and the singings build up a bridge of culture communication between the East and the West, which has already become part of China-US cultural exchange. He said that 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations. Nongovernmental contacts and cultural exchanges have always played very important roles. The communication, mutual understanding, and friendship should never be interrupted at any time. Jianzhen’s persistence should stimulate us to overcome practical difficulties and facilitate the development of China-US relations.

Xu Ning indicates that Jiangsu Province is not only the hometown of Master Jianzhen but also one of the most beautiful places with the most advanced economy and the most prosperous culture in China. The tale of Master Jianzhen is widely spread here, while the Jianzhen spirit is also well adopted by the contemporary Jiangsu people. Today, Voyage to The East is being performed thousands of miles away from its original stage at the Lincoln Center, which represents the amity of China. This is not only an ancient legend but also a real story that will exist permanently in people’s minds. We believe that every audience who is willing to promote cultural exchanges could see his or her own wishes from the story of Jianzhen and feel the emotional resonance.

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Office of Brooklyn Borough President, and China General Chamber of Commerce USA granted Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Certificate of Appreciation.

Opera Voyage to The East is produced by Jiangsu Performing Arts Group and created by composer Tang Jianping and director Xing Shimiao. The live music is performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Jiangsu Performing Arts Group, while Master Jianzhen is played by American-Chinese opera Singer Hao Jiang Tian, who lived in the US for many years. This work illustrates the Eastern epic in the form of Western opera through six main parts. Based on real characters and imaginary scenes, this opera praises Jianzhen’s compassion for the world, his perseverance, and his spirit of never giving up. This show creatively integrates regional cultural elements such as Jiangsu folk music as well as Buddhist music on the basis of operas, presenting the unique Eastern history and culture.

After the performance, Huang Ping and his wife went up to the stage, congratulated the success of the show, thanked the producer and all the casts for their hard work, and praised them as the bridge that connects China and the US. Huang Ping also encouraged everyone to continue promoting China-US cultural exchanges and cooperation and to build the bridge of friendship between China and the US through arts.

This crew has just finished performance in Los Angeles and has been given two performances in Lincoln Center. On the evening of June 14th, Asia Society also held a special seminar and invited the main cast Hao Jiang Tian as well as other main staff to share their stories behind the stage with the New York audience. On June 19th, The Wall Street Journal published an article on the interview of Hao Jiang Tian, saying that Voyage to The East would be beneficial for further facilitating the cultural exchange between the East and the West.

More highlights of the performance:

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