Thi Nguyen and the La Mirada Symphony came together in 2015 to perform the masterpiece The Butterfly Lovers, the story which is known in China as their version of Romeo and Juliet.
The Origin of the Story
The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, whose names form the title of the story. The title is often abbreviated to Liang Zhu.
A young woman named Zhu Ying Tai disguises herself as a man to attend a school in Hangzhou, as women were forbidden to admission into schools. On her way there, she meets a fellow traveler and schoolmate named Liang Shan Bo, and become good friends. For three years, they study and live together. During that time, Liang never realizes that Zhu is a woman. Before graduation, Zhu asks Liang to visit her hometown and promises to marry her “fictitious” younger sister to him. When Liang arrives, he’s ecstatic to discover her true identity. However, their hope of marriage is doomed when Zhu’s parents betroth Zhu to their schoolmate Ma Wen Cai. Liang dies of a broken heart. On Zhu’s wedding day to Ma, she tears off her wedding gown and throws herself against Liang’s tomb, which consumes Zhu. From the tomb, a pair of butterflies emerge.
Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto
The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written in 1959 by two Chinese composers, He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, while they were students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The music did not attain popularity until after China loosened its restrictions after the Cultural Revolution. Once released from censorship, it became an embodiment of China in transition.
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