Author Topic: An Opera and a Musical Revive interest in Buddhism  (Read 4962 times)

Ensapa

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An Opera and a Musical Revive interest in Buddhism
« on: May 20, 2013, 08:00:30 AM »
We now have Buddhist musicals!

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An Opera and a Musical Revive interest in Buddhism
May 18, 2013 By Justin Whitaker

If you happened to be in Berkeley, CA between February 6 and March 10, you might have caught “The Fourth Messenger” a musical animated by the questions: What if the Buddha were a woman? What if she were alive today?
The story, “loosely inspired by the life of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama,” follows a young reporter headed to see the new spiritual leader,  known to her followers as Mama Sid, in a quest for an expose on her activities. Spiritual, spell-binding, funny high-jinks ensue – with music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?hGbA4hJS-9M
If you missed that run, but happen to be near Cardiff, Wales (as I happen to be) or Birmingham, England, there is another show headed your way: Wagner Dream (wiki).

This one takes on a somewhat darker theme, that of an unfinished Buddhist opera by the great composer Richard Wagner himself. In the story, “Wagner is dying in Venice. He will leave behind some of Western art’s greatest works. But he hasn’t finished his life’s work; he is tormented by his need to write a music drama about the Buddha.”
The opera was written by English composer Jonathan Harvey, who passed away just last December. Harvey sought to blend the stories of the end of Wagner’s life with the opera, titled Die Sieger, that was left unfinished. Wagner had become interested in Buddhism after reading Eugène Burnouf‘s 1844 Introduction to the History of Buddhism and began composing the opera in 1856, but it was never completed.
Wagner Dream, which premiered in 2007, has had the English lines from the Buddhists translated into Pali (one of, if not the first time English has been translated into Pali for the public) by Richard Gombrich, President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. And, lucky for me, my friend and fellow Pali student Caroline Barker was hired by the Welsh National Opera to help the actors with Pali pronunciation (I hope to have an interview with her about her work and the opera in the coming weeks, and I will be seeing the show in Wales, so I’ll have a review to share not long after that).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?EXshWQoZlC8#!

kris

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Re: An Opera and a Musical Revive interest in Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2013, 04:55:03 PM »
There are many stage performances (mainly in Asia) about Buddhism. I particularly like a performance of 1000 arm Chenrezig, it is so beautiful! It has been a part of the Asia culture to watch Buddhism related performance.

I guess this is opera and musical is a good way to introduce Buddhism to the west to target the specific group. I totally agree with this method, because in this era, we need some special ways to get people to be interested in Buddhism. Mobile phone apps is one of the way...

I hope this opera will inspire more and more opera and musical which are Buddhism related! :)

Jessie Fong

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Re: An Opera and a Musical Revive interest in Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2013, 10:49:29 AM »
There are many stage performances (mainly in Asia) about Buddhism. I particularly like a performance of 1000 arm Chenrezig, it is so beautiful! It has been a part of the Asia culture to watch Buddhism related performance.

I guess this is opera and musical is a good way to introduce Buddhism to the west to target the specific group. I totally agree with this method, because in this era, we need some special ways to get people to be interested in Buddhism. Mobile phone apps is one of the way...

I hope this opera will inspire more and more opera and musical which are Buddhism related! :)






My Dream is a musical dance performance created for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games that incorporates many types of art, including music, dance, dance drama, Peking Opera, and classical opera in conjunction with representations of Chinese customs and those of other Eastern cultures. The fifth production of My Dream has adapted classical pieces such as Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and The Happy Life on Farmland in addition to new original performances including Dancing&Listening, Kite Flying and The Code of Life.
In classical Eastern tradition, the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva ("Buddha-to-be") with a thousand hands and eyes, believed to be the embodiment of compassion and mercy, is the most popular of all Buddhist deities. Depicted in the arts, the 42 hands of the bodhisattva form a circle that represents a thousand hands. In the dance Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, 21 hearing impaired dancers are arranged on a lotus-shaped stage to form the likeness of the deity. With a kind expression in their eyes, varied hand postures and spellbinding body movements, the group performs an interpretation of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva's kindness.

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This dance musical was performed by hearing-impaired performers.

More info on the group :

There are 110 disabled performers and 37 staff members in CDPPAT. The average age of disabled performers is 20 and that of the staff members, 29. The President, Art Director, Dance Arranger and Music Arranger are all disabled people. With a philosophy based on self-respect, self-confidence, self-improvement and self-reliance, as well as mutual respect, mutual care, mutual aid and mutual complementaries. They design and create program, train performers, produce promotional and audiovisual products, and also publicity and marketing. The troupe has got two teams of performers to be able to perform in two different countries and regions at the same time. They have also set up a trainee team aimed at training young talents.
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Whether it is a visual or hearing impairment or a physical disability, none of the 45 performers let it stop them from executing the complicated choreography in utter perfection.