GuoGuang Opera Company was founded in 1995 by bringing together carefully selected elite members of the Ministry of National Defense’s opera troupes from the three wings of the armed forces, and came under the authority of the Ministry of Education. In 2008, authority over the company was transferred to the Preparatory Office of the National Headquarters of Taiwan Traditional Arts under the Council for Cultural Affairs. In May 2012, with the establishment of the Ministry of Culture, jurisdiction was transferred to the National Center for Traditional Arts. Its overall mission and objectives are to preserve the traditions of Beijing opera, perpetuate cultural memory, and, at the same time, to encourage imaginative exploration and popularize artistic and cultural innovation, as well as to build platforms from which to share the trends in modern culture.
Tradition is the foundation of innovation. GuoGuang’s creative team integrates social trends by fusing ancient, elegant traditions with contemporary consciousness, composing new operas from literature, history and folk legend, such as the newly created Kunqu operas: Phoenix Pin, The Butterfly Lovers, Taiwan Trilogy (Mazu the Goddess), Zheng Cheng-Gung and Taiwan, The Story of Liao Tian-Din, The Story of A Great General, Long-lasting Sisterhood, The Legend of a Cowherd and a Weaver Girl, et al.
Also, through “themed planning,” it releases new traditional classical works, integrating social trends, effectively reviving cultural memories, and winning a high level of endorsement among the public.
As we enter further into the twenty-first century, the company is striving to draw increasingly upon modernity and literature in Beijing opera in its efforts to initiate a brand new aesthetic in the art of opera, thereby manifesting a richly humanistic form of “Taiwan creativity.” New works of recent years, such as Mr. Goodman Dumps His Wife, Three Persons and Two Lamps, The Golden Cangue, Whispers at a Tomb Stone and Trilogy of Opera Actors (Meng Xiao-Dung, A Hundred Years on Stage, Flowing Sleeves and Rouge), The Painting of 18 Lohans, Lord Guan Yu on Stage, et al., echo with contemporary cultural development, progressing from the dramatic circle to the literary circle and enjoying the approval of people from all walks of life, and are greatly valued in the academic field in Taiwan and cross-strait cultural circles.
Beijing opera represents the essential elements of traditional drama. With its origins in the dissemination and utilization of China’s classical cultural heritage, it was designated part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientifi and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010. GuoGuang, rooted in tradition and vigorously carry on the heritage, provides modern art with creative elements and opens the way for extensive artistic exploration. Transnational exchanges in symphonic music (Sunlight after Snowfall , 2007), contemporary dance, percussion, visual theater (Orlando, 2009), and Shakespearean drama (Cleopatra and Her Fools , 2012), in particular, demonstrate the varied vitality of vigorous innovation.
Culture is the key that opens the door to the world. Good works are never lonely. In recent years, GuoGuang has brought out a series of masterpieces in the dramatic arts which have attracted interest internationally and from across the Taiwan Strait. It has been invited many times to perform in France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Russia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, et al., and to participate in many important international performing arts festivals. In accord with the Ministry of Culture’s global action plan, it continues to promote new productions of Beijing opera and both old and new classical drama to the Chinese and international arts and culture markets. In so doing it has established a distinctive image of Taiwan amid the tide of globalization and constructed a cultural diplomacy network, vigorously presenting the soft power of Taiwan’s artistic innovation on the world stage. In particular, the new “Made in Taiwan” Beijing opera aesthetic serves as a cultural-creative export and has already won a high degree of recognition among the intellectual elite of China, endowing the cross-strait trend in humanistic thought with creative freedom.
To enable the Kunqu opera culture to put down roots and spread in Taiwan, GuoGuang spares no effort in conducting performance tours on campuses and in remote areas and in cultivating personnel. To enhance the appreciation of its creative undertakings among different age groups, it conducts a wide range of vibrant and varied arts education and promotional activities, publishes teaching materials, thereby strengthening the nation’s artistic creative competitiveness. Arts education increases audience participation activates channels for the staging of Beijing opera and related performing arts, thereby encouraging popular enjoyment of the arts and culture in remote areas. By constructing platforms for exhibition and performance to cultivate local talent, it serves to realize the policy objective of “going back to the soil.”
The new works and superior artistic talents that GuoGuang continues to bring forth have on many occasions been honored with artistic awards. Over the years, prizes for important works have included: 2000 television’s Golden Bell Award for The Story of a Great General. 2002 Golden Bell Award and the prize for tenth top performance program at the First Annual Taishin Arts Awards, for Journey Through Hell. 2003 prize for ninth top performance program at the Second Annual Taishin Arts Awards. 2005 Special Jury Prize at the Fourth Annual Taishin Arts Awards, for Three Persons and Two Lamps. 2006 Golden Bell Award for Three Persons and Two Lamps. 2007 prize for tenth top performance program at the Fifth Annual Taishin Arts Awards, for both The Golden Cangue and Whispers at a Tomb Stone. 2011 prize for tenth top performance program at the Tenth Annual Taishin Arts Awards, for A Hundred Years on Stage. 2015-grand prize at the Fourteenth Annual Taishin Arts Awards, for The Painting of 18 Lohans. Individual prizes include: 2005 Artistic Director Wang An-chi, the Ninth Annual National Culture and Arts Award. 2007 Wei Hai-ming, lead performer of female roles, the Eleventh Annual National Culture and Arts Award. 2011 Director Lee Xiao-pin, the Fifteenth Annual National Culture and Arts Award, and Tang Wen-hua, lead performer of elderly roles, the Fifteenth Annual Taipei Culture Prize.
Tradition is perpetually fashionable! GuoGuang constantly strives to make traditional opera a viable form of performance art, demanding of itself the highest degree of artistic quality and ongoing innovation and advancement. We firmly believe that: Opera is not a thing of the past. It is our vibrant performance in the present!
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