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Alumna Zhou Mo---War Trauma in Your Genes, Peace Flame in Your Opera

Alumna Zhou Mo---War Trauma in Your Genes, Peace Flame in Your Opera


Zhou Mo, the resident director of the Chicago Opera House, the young opera director in the United States, and the alumna of 5th from Nanjing Foreign Language School, donated her opera score of “The Diaries of John Rabe” at the Memorial Hall for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese invaders on Dec 5.

The big blue book was worn out. The cover was patched together with scotch tape. With more than 10000 words, the book tells the story of how German businessman John Rabe rescued 250,000 Chinese refugees in the Nanjing Massacre. The opera, which took three years to write and finalize, is now touring Europe.

“No matter in National Opera House in Berlin, in Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall in Hamburg or in the Rhone Herzog Theatre in Vienna, where the performance goes, and the venue is full. Audiences in Germany and Austria emailed me after the play, saying that they would search and buy books immediately to understand the history they had never heard of. "In an exclusive interview with reporters from, Zhou recalled that the tour received warm feedback.


Zhou Mo, a 32-year-old native of Nanjing, has been part of her family for four generations.

Zhou Mo's grandmother had survived the Nanjing Massacre. Her grandmother once told her that in order to avoid the search of Japanese soldiers, they put pot ashes and rice ashes on their faces and fled to the remote suburb of Nanjing to escape.

At 10:00 a.m. on December 13 every year, the air-raid siren echoed across Nanjing City, which makes Zhou Mo unforgettable. At that time, she was still at school, and the piercing air-raid siren made her feel thrilling: "At that moment, time and space seemed to be stagnant, and I would think what kind of darkness and bloodbath Nanjing experienced on December 13, 1937."

At the age of 18, Zhou Mo studied abroad and became a director in the United States. "My grandma's painful memories of the Nanjing massacre are actually flowing in my blood. I want to move them to the stage because of the trauma in my genes.” It has long been Zhou's wish.

Until she read "The Rape of Nanjing: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II " by Chinese American writer Zhang Chunru (Irish Chang), she felt that Zhang Chunru's story might be the "key" she was searching for.

Published in English in 1999 and later on the New York Times best seller list, the book gave many Western readers their first exposure to the history of Nanjing Massacre.

In 2016, Zhou Mo began to write dramas about Zhang Chunru, tracing Zhang's books, notes, life, and understanding her life.

Zhou Mo clearly remembers, on that Thanksgiving night, her family was cooking Thanksgiving dinner at home in the United States, but she was in tears. "I made up my mind: What Iris Chang didn't finish, I'm going to finish it. "

It was during the creation of Zhang Chunru's drama that Zhou Mo was inspired: The way the history of the Nanjing Massacre was presented in the past was mostly from the perspective of the Japanese invaders and the victims of the Chinese people; From the perspective of the third party witnessed by international friends such as John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, Maji, Ethiopia and other international friends and witnesses, opera, a comprehensive art form integrating the great achievements of Western art, presented this sadness to the world Tragic history is a great way.


At the same time, she came up with the idea of writing an opera called “The Diaries of John Rabe”.

It took three years to write the opera. She hired a team of American actors and invited Foreign Actors to perform in Chinese to show the international people who could speak Chinese at that time to carry out humanitarian relief in Nanjing. From the fragmentary dancing beauty of the wall bricks to the original appearance of old Nanjing with charcoal strokes, Zhou Mo has paid unprecedented efforts in her career for more than ten years.

At the end of the opera of “The Diaries of John Rabe”, she designed a lyrics sung by foreigners: "History should not be forgotten, truth should not be buried, and the world will remember Nanjing today."

To do so, Zhou Mo suddenly felt that the feeling of "one continuous line" was very familiar: the Chinese people will not forget those who stand up in the cold winter and help each other, and will not forget the people who passed down the memory of history from generation to generation.

She said, "as a Nanjing native, I am grateful to be able to pass on this kindling: to tell the truth of history and to pass on the idea of peace. With the unremitting efforts of each of us, the world will remember Nanjing on December 13, 1937. "

Original opera "The Diaries of John Rabe” performed on December 13

As one of the activities on National Public Memorial Day for Nanjing massacre victims in 2019, the opera "The Diaries of John Rabe" jointly produced by Jiangsu performing arts group and Jiangsu Cultural Investment Group will be performed in the Opera Hall of Jiangsu Grand Theatre at 19:30 on Friday, December 13.


Over the past few days, the Jiangsu Symphony Orchestra and choir have meticulously performed with the singers in the Rehearsal Hall of the Opera Hall of the Jiangsu Grand Theatre. According to Cheng Ye, the permanent conductor of the Jiangsu Symphony Orchestra, the rehearsal started in early November and was well completed. The opera is the culmination of classical music. On the day of the Public Memorial, through artistic form, we hope that more people will understand the suffering and remember the history, in the love of Mr. John Rabe and other international friends, praise peace.

Meanwhile, after two months of meticulous planning, the opera film "The Diaries of John Rabe" has already begun the shooting schedule. To re-create and present this kind of art, Opera Director Zhou Mo said: "Both the Metropolitan Opera House and the British Royal Opera House have been broadcast in HD, this time using the film carrier can bring more audiences closer to the opera as an artistic form and help the work spread further and further. "