Nanyin Drama: Song for Li Qingzhao
Song for Li Qingzhao is named after the Northern Song Dynasty female poet Li Qingzhao and her husband, the epigrapher Zhao Mingcheng’s “Jin Shi Lu” (Collection of Ancient Inscriptions). It tells the love story with sadness between Li Qingzhao and Zhao Mingcheng in their safeguarding the “Jin Shi,” collecting related cultural relics and editing the book of “Jin Shi Lu.”
Li Qingzhao (1084-1155 AD), a patriotic female poet of the Song Dynasty, represents the graceful poem, and is also known as “the most talented woman in ancient China.”
Li Qingzhao was born in a scholarly family and had a wealthy early life. His father Li Gefei served as an official in the royal court, and his family had a wealth of books, laying a solid foundation for her practice of writing poems. After marrying her husband, Zhao Mingcheng, the couple collected and edited various ancient books, calligraphy and paintings, rubbings, and inscriptions from metal and stone monuments. In 1125 AD, troops of the Jin Dynasty crossed the border and invaded the Northern Song. Li Qingzhao and Zhao Mingcheng were forced to move to the south of the Yangtze River, living in loneliness. As a poet, Li wrote about her leisurely life at an early age and later lamented her vagrant, lonely and sentimental life due to the country’s failure in battlefields against the invasion of the Jin Dynasty. Her representative works include: “Li Yi’an Collection,” “Yi’an Jushi Collection,” “Yi’an Poem,” etc., all of which have been lost during the war.
Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129 AD), a scholar of epigraphy in the Song Dynasty.
When he was a boy, Zhao Mingcheng lived in Capital Bianliang(today’s Kaifeng city, Henan Province, China). Later he entered the royal university to study Chinese classics. In the first year of Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty (1101 AD), Zhao married Li Qingzhao, the daughter of Li Gefei, a middle-ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Education. In the second year of Chongning (1103 AD), Zhao entered the court as an official. In the first year of Daguan (1107 AD), set up by then Prime Minister Cai Jing, Zhao was demoted from the Capital to be a provincial officer. He has had a passion for epigraphy and related cultural relics collection since he was young and till his death. From the second year of Daguan (1108 AD) to the third year of Xuanhe (1121 AD), He paid his tour across the country and collected inscriptions and rubbings from metal and stone monuments. And with the help of his wife Li Qingzhao, he completed the famous book of “Jin Shi Lu” (Collection of Ancient Inscriptions), focusing on the study of ancient Chinese epigraphy. In 1129, Zhao died of illness in Jiankang (today’s Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China) when he was on his way to Huzhou to take office.
A Brief Introduction of Epigraphy
For the permanent preservation of important writing materials, some characters, articles were carved on stone tablets, especially on bronze wares. This is an important cultural tradition in ancient China. The epigraphy is a discipline whose main research objects are ancient rubbings and inscriptions on bronze wares and stones. It focuses on describing and verifying textual materials, especially the text inscriptions and rubbings on it, to prove and supplement the history records. In some way, it is the predecessor of Chinese archaeology. “Jin” in Chinese refers to bronze wares and their inscriptions, and “Shi” refers to stone carvings, especially stone inscriptions. The study of Chinese epigraphy was formed in the Northern Song Dynasty, and Ouyang Xiu, a statesman and famous writer, was the pioneer of epigraphy.
Suzhou Tanci, also known as “Xiao Shu” (short storytelling), developed from Tao Zhen art in China’s Yuan Dynasty. It originated in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and became popular in the Yangtze River Delta of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai. The Suzhou Tanci performance is usually a narrative art in the Suzhou dialect, accompanied with sanxian or pipa when singing. During the performance, the performers narrate, joke, play instruments, and sing, keeping the audience enthralled. Normally, there are 3 performance styles: Dan Dang(one performer), Shuang Dang(two performers), and even San Dang(three performers). The performance is mostly about legendary love stories, such as Lady White Snake, Jade Dragonfly, etc. In May 2006, the Suzhou Tanci was included in China’s national intangible cultural heritage list.
Suzhou Tanci “Song of Mulan” is adapted from the Yuefu poem “Mulan” from the Northern Dynasties of China. This is a long narrative poem that tells the legend of a girl named Hua Mulan, who disguised herself as a man, joined the army to take her father’s place, and served courageously on the battlefield. She was not interested in becoming an official after returning to the court, and only wanted to return home and be reunited with her family. By nature, Mulan is kind and brave. She is composed and witty and perseveres in the path of truth, and has infinite love and dedication towards her parents and her country. These are the excellent characteristics that shaped the image of this enduring heroine from ancient China.
Writer/Adaptor: Xia Shi
Composer: Xu Lixian
Advisors: Gu Zhifen
Performer: Dai Miaotian
Accompanied by: You Zhiming,
Zhang Min, Liu Mingjie, and Lu Jialin