Red Angel Chinese Opera – Planning

After researching about the different Chinese operas, the processes, designs and dance, and also looking at Bauhaus and their costumes, I went on to design my own opera.

I had several versions of a script, as I have always found it difficult to create stories. The Final Script is available in PDF form. It was based off of The Drunken Concubine and Mulan Psalm, both very influential Chinese operas. The story is of two people who fall in love, and wish to meet each other the next day in a meadow. The man did not turn up, and the lady turns bitter and sour, hatching a plan to deceive him into believing she is the best thing that could come around, acting as a wise gentleman. The man then repented for his sins, and asked the lady to be once again his. The lady is then pleased as her plan worked, but still aware that he may leave her once again.

I designed three masks for this; one for the lady, one for ‘the gentleman’/deceiving lady, and one for the man. I followed the colour meanings that the Chinese use, which can be found in the post Chinese Opera Masks and Makeup. I also took advice from Nouahsark about the layering and designing your own masks. There were simple costumes of plain t-shirts and a patterned blanket. This was inspired by both Bauhaus and Chinese opera, as they both have very simple, but often bright outfits. This was also done to keep the costs down. Inspirations for the masks/makeup are below:

The opera was filmed in three takes, as improvisation was used, much like Bauhaus used it in many of their performances.

I also ended up speaking the opera, concentrating on the themes and meanings. This was also because I was too nervous to sing, and I feel as though it would not have the same effect. Because this was spoken, it made the performance part much shorter, and I think I would have been a bit stuck if I had to produce all the choreography alongside the opera. Admittedly, I was also uncomfortable with producing an opera, especially compared with some of the other pieces I have recently completed. I did, however enjoy learning about another art form that I would not have normally considered.

I also wanted to try and fit in some elements of Bauhaus [Performance] – The Turn of the 20th Century, as I found these costumes and performances very strange but captivating, which is an element that I wish the opera to have.

My own designs are below.

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