The opera “Yimeng Mountain Range” will be staged at SAIC Shanghai Culture Square on Friday and Saturday.

It is the only national opera among the performances at this year’s Shanghai International Arts Festival. It is performed in Chinese and based on real stories from Yimeng during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

Yimeng was a revolutionary base in east China’s Shandong Province. The region served as an indestructible fortress during the war.

Produced by Shandong Song and Dance Theater, the opera sings praises of the local people who offered unrequited support for the soldiers of the Communist Party of China. Many of them even sacrificed themselves for the country.

The performance is a tribute to the revolutionary heroes.

“According to the historical data, the population of Yimeng was 4.2 million at that time,” said Zhang Guilin, deputy director of Shandong’s provincial department of culture and tourism. “Among them, more than 1.2 million people engaged in the war, 200,000 people joined the army, and half of the soldiers died during the war. Yimeng people used their blood and lives to build a lofty milestone.”

The opera features six scenes and 40 vocal pieces. Although opera is a form of theater originating in the West, the show draws on Chinese folk art, for example: Shandong kuaishu (a form of storytelling).

Songs with regional character are played on many Chinese musical instruments such as bamboo flute, suona (double-reeded horn) and pipa (Chinese lute).

“We intended to write songs that are both pleasant to hear and have regional flavor,” said the opera’s director Huang Dingshan.

As a veteran, Huang agreed immediately to be the director of the opera.

“Just because of the three words, Yi Meng Shan,” said Huang. “I made a demand that the opera must be named after these three words.”

In order to collect material for the show, its creators visited Yimeng on multiple occasions.

Performance detail

Date: November 1-2, 7:30pm
Tickets: 80-680 yuan
Venue: SAIC Shanghai Culture Square
Address: 597 Fuxing Rd M.