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Operas From China to Be Aired in Radio Broadcast Across U.S.

 Four operas staged by the China National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing will be broadcast over a network of radio stations in the United States starting Sept. 2.

The Ballad of Canal, composed by Yin Qing and conducted by Lu Jia, is the first original Chinese national opera to be aired in the United States. Combining traditional folk style singing with Western opera sounds, it tells the story of the people living on the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

A scholar, a wandering artist, and a blind woman encounter each other by chance on the canal. Through the ups and downs of their lives filled with joy and sorrow, life and death, righteousness and evil, the opera “showcases the unique quality and beauty of Chinese opera,” said Lisa Llynn, hostess of the series at the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago.

“The world broadcast debut of The Ballad of Canal signifies a significant milestone, as the NCPA introduces China’s first national opera commission to the international audiences,” NCPA Vice President Gong Jicheng told Xinhua. “This opera is deeply rooted in Chinese traditional culture, presenting the unique artistic allure that defines the Chinese national opera.”

Besides The Ballad of Canal, the other three to be aired are Western operas staged at NCPA, including Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser; Gaetano Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment; and Giacomo Puccini’s La fanciulla del West.

Estlin Usher, director at the WFMT Radio Network, said they “are honored to partner with Beijing’s NCPA to bring their exceptional opera and concert performances to listeners all across the United States.”

This is the second time that the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago and China’s NCPA in Beijing collaborate to bring NCPA’s performances to radio stations and listeners in the United States.

“Our collaboration last season was highly valued by stations and beloved by listeners due to NCPA’s brilliant artistry and best-in-class performances,” said Usher. “The blend of canonical Western masterworks with Chinese composers was especially valuable, as listeners rarely have a chance to hear these exceptional pieces.”

“We are delighted to partner with NCPA, and we believe these productions show the power of music to forge connections and understanding between cultures through the language of music,” Usher said.

Gong echoed the remarks, saying that the ongoing collaboration with the WFMT presents a robust platform for collective synergy. “It not only bolsters the partnership between NCPA and WFMT but also fosters a richer exchange of classical music programs between China and the United States.”

Complementing New York’s Metropolitan Opera (MET) broadcasts to fill out the calendar year with opera programming throughout the United States, WFMT Radio Network Opera Series has a long-running U.S. radio tradition. The series in the last season was broadcast over 360 markets, covering most of the country.

In the current series, NCPA operas will be presented along with other world-renowned opera companies, including Austria’s Vienna State Opera, Britain’s Royal Opera House, France’s Opera de Paris, Italy’s La Seals, and Germany’s Bayreuth Festival.

NCPA series will start broadcasting with Tannhauser on Saturday, followed by The Ballad of the Canal on Sept. 9, La Fille du Regiment on Sept. 16, and finish with La fanciulla del West on Sept. 23. All the broadcasting will start at noon each Saturday.