There Will Be A Sea of Blood

Many thanks to China’s Global Times for keeping us au courant with the latest news from the world of art and entertainment.

I wonder whether there are franchising opportunities outside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.   Performances of Mozart and Puccini by a group calling itself the Sea Of Blood Opera Troupe would be totally awesome.

Scene from 2012 performance of The Flower Girl, staged in Xi'an  Photo: CFP

Scene from 2012 performance of The Flower Girl, staged in Xi’an Photo: CFP

North Korea’s Sea of Blood Opera Troupe brought their classic The Flower Girl to China recently. Having performed in eight cities so far, the group will stop in Beijing to stage shows at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) from July 19-22.

The Flower Girl features a girl who picks flowers to sell in the market in order to support her family. With a blind sister and a sick mother at home, the family experiences a tough time, ruled by an oppressive landlord. After the death of the mother, the eldest son escapes from prison and saves his two sisters.

The opera’s 24-year-old leading performer Chae Chul-ok is the fifth generation of her family to play the protagonist.

The stage designer told Chengdu Daily that the set, sound effects, lighting and costumes have all improved since their last performance in China in 2008. A LED screen displays scenes and subtitles from the film.

Revolutionary opera

The Flower Girl is one of North Korea’s five great revolutionary operas, a handful of classical, revolution-themed operas.

Two generations of leaders in North Korea have contributed to the performances. According to Kim Il-sung’s memoir, he wrote the script for the opera in 1930 in Jilin Province, China. After a few rehearsals, the performance was staged for the 13th anniversary of the October Revolution of the same year.

The Flower Girl was turned into a film in the 1970s, directed by Kim Jong-il. The deputy head of the opera troupe Joo Young-il once told the Chinese press that Kim Jong-il personally selected the 38 songs in the film among 2,200 song choices.

Related video: the first part of the 3-hour North Korean epic/epoch-making opera/movie “Sea of Blood”.  The soundtrack, it seems, was recorded at the bottom of a deep, deep well.   Enjoy, comrades!

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