China Bans Norwegian Musical

Norway is still experiencing strong Chinese disapproval after awarding dissident Liu Xiaobo this year’s Nobel Peace Prize almost one week ago.

The intervening days have seen two meetings cancelled with Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen in Beijing, and accusations by Chinese leaders that Norway is virtually encouraging crime by having given the prize to a convicted criminal.

Another of this week’s development is the ban on performances by the Chinese Ministry of Culture of the Norwegian-Chinese musical production “Some Sunny Night”.
The opera musical features 2009 Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak and composer Thomas Stanghelle, along with about 200 other Norwegian and Chinese artists.
Stanghelle told Vårt Land it seemed obvious to him why the performances were cancelled.

“The message is that everything Norwegian is unwanted in China,” he said in an interview with the paper.

Alexander Rybak found it very sad.   
“Projects are cancelled sometimes but it seems very unnecessary when it is because of something like this,” he told NRK.

Paradoxically, “Some Sunny Night” is inspired by the friendship between Norwegian marathon runner Ketil Moe and Chinese Mark Wang. The theme of the opera is that disabled people can achieve their goals.

Wang, one of the official banner carriers under the Olympic Games in Beijing and handicapped in a plane crash, came to Norway after being awarded a study grant in Norway by Queen Sonja. Moe died from cystic fibrosis in 1999.

Thomas Stanghelle told NRK they “had good cooperation with Chinese authorities until Xiaobo received the Peace Prize.”

According to Alexander Rybak the issue is a political one, that should be solved by those who normally deal with these types of problems.

“I have worked a long time on this project, since before I was famous. Ketil Moe is a great source of inspiration to me,” Rybak, who was due to play the main role of Moe on stage, told Dagbladet.

The musical was supposed to be performed on the 1st and 2nd of November, at Beijing’s 21st Theatre Centre.


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