It took place during the Warring States (Chun-Qiu) Period in ancient China, ca 722-481 BC. "The Orphan of Zhao" (also entitled "The Supreme Sacrifices of Eight for One") is based on the historical episode involving the massacre of the Zhao family. The story depicts the spirit of patriotism, self-sacrifice and loyalty of a court doctor, Chen Yin, along with seven others to save the surviving grandson of priminister Zhao Dun under the tyranny rule of Jin Ling Gong in the Jin Kingdom. King Jin immersed himself in earthly pleasures of beautiful women, wine and music. He neglected his governing duties, and allowed his ministers to vie and usurp power. A power-thirsty general Tu An Gu was diabolically opposed by the righteous and loyal minister Zhao Dun and his compatriot, General Wei Jian. Cunning Tu managed to convince King Jin to have general Wei dispatched to guard the Northern frontier. He then tried to have minister Zhao killed first by wild dogs then by an assassin. Both attemptes falled because the assassin learning that minister Zhao was an honorable and loyal official, rather sacrificed himself than to harm Zhao. In a rage Tu then framed Zhao for revolting against King Jin and killed Zhao in the pretext of defending the King. He issued Tu decree of the massacre of all Zhao family members, 300 of them in all ages so as to terminate the Zhao lineage. As a consequence, Zhao, a faithful minister, and his whole family, inclusive of four generations, were all executed. Princess Zhung Ji, who was married into the Zhao family, was spared and became house-arrested in the royal palace.
Chen Yin, a loyal and righteous court doctor, noticed that Princess Zhung Ji was preganant before the tragedy was occured. He bravely promised Princess Zhung and her husband, Zhao Shou, in the palace to save the orphan after the baby is born. Chen Yin bravely sneaked out the infant orphan of Zhao of well-guarded palace. Tu, failing to find the Princess'infant and driven by the desire to eliminate all Zhao's ordered all infants under three months of age killed. Chen Yin, realizing that Tu would never give up searching for the infant Zhao, decided to sacrifice his own infant son Jin Ge as the Princess' infant. He solicited the help of an aging loyal minister Gong Sun Tsu Jiou. Gong Sun, knowing that this would cost his life, offered to pretend that he was the one that sneaked the infant Zhao out of the palace to his own house. Chen Yin then reported the incidence to Tu, who retrieved the wrong infant from Gong Sun's house. Chen Yin helplessly watched his own infant son being killed by Tu. To ensure the infant Zhao's safety, Chen Yin further offered infant Zhao as his own son to Tu as Tu's godson. Young Zhao thus survived the cruel prosecution of Tu and grew into adulthood. Young Zhao eventually was told the truth, reunited with his Princess mother, and revenged for his family by killing Tu.
This opera depicts the rivalry between the good and the evil, the intrigue of cunnings, contrasted by the heroism of honest spirits, in no less magnitude than that of "Macbeth" or "Hamlet" in the Shakespearean theater, or "Faust" of the Wagnerian operas. As the story unfolds, the audience will be led through episodes vividly depicted by beautiful arias, filled with emotions of hidden internal sufferings and operatic dramas, as the plot within plot develops, which make this opera ever so memorable and everlasting!
This opera, consisted of eleven scenes, has been sung by Penny Cheng-Hua Wang performed as Chen Yin in collaboration with a top ranking world rennouced cast from The Beijing Opera Troupe, by special invitation from Beijing, as well as the top ranking orchestral artists from China.
This opera has presented in the evening of September 19th, 2003, at 8:00 PM at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City, New York.
Cheng-Hua Wang for her dedicated support and devotion of Social Arts Service, has awarded by Chinese American Arts Coucil and Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City. NYJPW entire team members have produced as they had promised a wonderful, lifetime memorable historical evening of Peking opera.