SCOTTISH OPERA TRAVELS TO CHINA TO PERFORM OPERA WITH 900 SCHOOL CHILDREN FOR AN AUDIENCE OF THOUSANDS
A team from Scottish Opera’s Education Department is travelling to Beijing in October to stage a show about the Emperor of China’s Terracotta Warriors.
900 pupils from Fang Cao Di International School will take part in workshops with the Company’s arts education specialists for a week, before performing the imaginative cross-curricular show Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army on November 3, at Beijing Xiedao International Conference and Exhibition Centre.
Warriors! is composed by Alan Penman with lyrics by Ross Stenhouse. Pupils learn the words and songs in their own classrooms and are then helped by the Scottish Opera team to prepare for a performance in front of classmates, friends and family.
The production tells the true story of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, who was desperate to rule forever. Over many years, Qin Shi Huang assembled an army of 8000 soldiers, horses and chariots to watch over him in the afterlife. All the warriors were armed to the teeth, but were made entirely of clay.
Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army was originally commissioned in 2015 in partnership with the five Scottish Confucius Institutes based in the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Heriot Watt and Aberdeen, and this is the second time the production will be performed by pupils from Fang Cao Di International School. In 2016, around 200 pupils learnt the songs and performed the opera, which is mainly sung in English with some words in Mandarin. The ‘pilot’ visit was deemed such a success by the teachers that the team from Scottish Opera was invited to return and work with a cast of pupils nearly four times larger for one gigantic performance.
Scottish Opera’s Director of Education and Outreach, Jane Davidson said: 'Our annual Primary Schools Tour is one of the longest established programmes at Scottish Opera – every year around 8,500 children across Scotland take part in these performances with many more thousands friends and families coming to see them in action. We are delighted to be invited to bring our interpretation of one of the most iconic figures in Chinese history, Qin Shi Huang, to Beijing and we hope that Chinese pupils enjoy performing Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army as much as their Scottish counterparts.’
Mr. Fei Liu, Headteacher at Fang Cao Di School added: ‘This collaboration with Scottish Opera was inspired by their unique approach towards learning and teaching in schools, which promotes the benefits of cross curricular learning through the artform of opera: the component elements of music, visuals, movement and storytelling support pupils’ understanding of a wide range of core curriculum subjects. This chimes with our school’s philosophy and our curriculum which includes ethics, mathematics, science, technology, wellbeing and the arts and aims to cultivate in pupils an affection for China and an international vision, so we are looking forward to working together for this special performance of Warriors!’
Scottish Opera was this week awarded Confucius Classroom Hub status by Hanban, the headquarters of Confucius Institutes worldwide, making it the first opera company in the world to be selected for this accolade. It is one of four new hubs based outwith a school setting; the others are the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Scottish Schools Football Association and the Royal Zoological Society at Edinburgh Zoo.
Scottish Opera will be opening its own ‘classroom’ at the Company’s Edington Street production studios, where resources on Chinese performance, arts and culture will be kept. It will be used as a rehearsal space for Chinese-related programmes.
Confucius Classrooms are hubs usually based in schools and serving the local community. The concept promotes joint planning of cultural activities, sharing ideas and resources to stimulate the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture.