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Famed Jing Yong’s martial arts novel adapted for opera
Posted on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:35 am
by IDMA Editor

A famed Chinese martial arts novel Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber by Hong Kong-based writer Jing Yong has been adapted for an opera by the Taipei Philharmonic Opera Studio.

Photo of performers by Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber

Cha Leung-yung, whose pseudonym is “Jing Yong,” is a popular novelist and has published fifteen books. He and his friend Shen Pao Sing founded the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao in Hong Kong on May 20, 1959. Most of his novels first ran in that popular paper and then have been adapted for films, television serials and radio programs.

"Our new production tried to combine kung fu from the Eastern society and opera from the Western,” said the opera’s director Cheng Chih-wen -- a big fan of the novelist’s works since childhood.

Unlike special effects or stunts in kung fu movies, music will feature in the whole production because performers are fighting on stage by “singing,” he added.

Chiu Chun-chiang, the studio’s music director and conductor, spent about three weeks in the opera’s repertoire. He chose pieces from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, Charles Gound’s Faust, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and Leo Delibes’ Lakme.

The performers include coloratura soprano Chiang Chi-chen, dramatic baritone Kung Hsiao-cheng and lyric tenor Huang Ya-chung.

A big fan of Jing Yong’s martial arts novels, Chiu said he was unsatisfied with most adapted kung fu films because they had not conveyed the true spirit of the original novels. With a touch of irony, the Proud, Smiling Wanderer implies that the world is filled with hypocrites.

"But through this new martial arts opera, local audiences can enjoy the novelist’s originality with our artistic creativity,” he said, adding his childhood dream finally came true due to that opera.

The performances will be given January 22-23 at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. Tickets are now available at

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