“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

These Insidious Little Edits…

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

The night of March 23, a Sunday night in the brand-new Grand National Theatre, where the National Centre for the Performing Arts was putting on a version of Puccini's Turandot. Ping, one of the emperor's three ministers, stands forward to lament, "O China, o China, che or sussulti e trasecoli inquieta" ("O China, O China, now always startled and aghast, restless"), and what comes up on the Chinese subtitle screen? "O World, O World, now always startled and aghast…"

Because we've become fragile to the point where words of a fictional character in a Western opera written in 1920s are sufficient to bring us down. Or are our national feelings so easily hurt? Or is it part of the gentle campaign to blur the edges of things, to recast what's seen and heard in a way that leaves a false impression, while stopping short of out-and-out dishonesty?

Funny how these little things can touch off the rancor you've otherwise kept well in check…

Comments

# 1.   

Aye, there's definitely some edge blurring involved...but I feel it's more like a campaign to make your true impressions inexpressible, and then be left to wonder if that's a good or a bad thing. Your mentioning that line from Turandot has gotten my mind scrambling about the dramatic outburst at the end of Yu Dafu's 沉沦, and whether there could possibly be some connection, since Friedrich Schiller once did a rendition of Turandot and Schiller was listed by Yu Dafu as one of the few notable western dramatists between Shakespeare and the end of the 19th century.

Matt, March 28, 2008, 10:08a.m.

# 2.   

Just out of curiosity, how were you able to stomach any more Turandot?

 Brendan, March 28, 2008, 9:51p.m.

# 3.   

I had to work very hard to keep that job from infecting my enjoyment of the music, but I've mostly succeeded...

Eric, March 30, 2008, 5:41a.m.

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