Xu Ying


Xu Ying
b. 1962, Hunan
Theatre librettist
Xu Ying is a prolific librettist, actor and director, whose work ranges from adaptations of classics to avant-garde productions. After studying Huaguxi (Flower Drum opera) in Changsha in his native Hunan, he studied at Beijing’s Academy of Chinese Traditional Theatre. As a visiting lecturer at UCLA in 1998, he staged the Wuju (dance drama) Ah Q, co-written with choreographer Victoria Marks.
Xu is currently resident playwright at the China National Opera and Dance Theatre Company in Beijing.
Xu brings out the human dimensions of quasi-mythical heroes: the military strategist Sun Wu in Sun Wu, the Supreme Military Strategist (Bingsheng Sun Wu 2002); the poet Li Bai in an opera of the same name (co-written with Diana Liao, with music composed by Chen Yi): and the heroine Hua Mulan, who joins the army as a man and falls in love, in Magnolia Mulan (co-written with Qiu Yupu, 2001). Xu often reinterprets traditional stories and characters. His bilingual opera, Wenji: Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute (music by Lam Bun-ching), departs from Chinese tradition in its depiction of the unresolved inner conflict over cultural identity of the exiled poetess Cai Wenji, while Tea (music by Tan Dun), an opera in progress, relocates the life of tea-master Lu Yu from the Song (960–1279) to the Tang dynasty (618–907) so as to emphasize the cross-cultural exchanges between China and Japan. Many of Xu’s librettos for experimental artists, such as composers Chen Yi, Lam Bun-ching and Tan Dun, and choreographers Victoria Marks and Yin Mei, are funded and produced outside of China. Xu, along with other playwrights, organized the first independent Beijing International Drama Festival in 2003.
ISABELLE DUCHESNE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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