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by Liang Xizhi

LONDON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The opera Thunderstorm was met with thunderous applause on Thursday in its debut at the London Coliseum.

An award-winning modern opera about family, society and corruption in Old Shanghai, Thunderstorm tells a story of a wealthy, successful and seemingly happy Shanghai household, behind which lies a web of intrigue, a dark family secret and a gathering storm. As corruption is exposed and the family disintegrates, Zhou Puyuan, the head of the family, is confronted with a changing society and the emergence of a new China.

Based on the acclaimed play by Cao Yu, and set to music by legendary composer Mo Fan, the opera depicts a Chinese household in a time of social transition. This is not a traditional Chinese opera, but a Western piece that acknowledges other influences including modern Chinese song, a distinctive genre which flowered at the time the original play was written, and thus is very much relevant to the meaning of the opera.

The opera combines western and Chinese culture by using a large number of arias, recitative ballad duets, ensemble, chorus and instrumental passages from Western opera and many ethnic musical instruments such as the erhu, lute, bangu, and clapper from Chinese traditional opera.

Thunderstorm is an original work based on western opera with rich oriental musical elements. The opera is being performed on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, said Liu Xiaoming, China's Ambassador to the UK, in a congratulatory message after the opera's premiere.

Members of the audience were dazzled by the performance. Sixty-year-old Brian Hick told Xinhua that the show was his first modern Chinese opera, although he had seen the traditional forms before.

Catherine Calder said she felt that Chinese and Western opera share a lot in common. Despite differences in language and culture, the performance nonetheless stood out. She said the story of "Thunderstorm" is not difficult to understand, as love is an eternal theme.

Thunderstrom is produced by the Shanghai Opera House. The performance is part of the Shanghai Season at the London Coliseum, a unique collaboration between the Shanghai Opera and Shanghai Ballet companies.

by Eric J. Lyman

LAMPEDUSA air max mens nz , Italy, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The economy of the small island between the Sicily and the North African coast is buckling beneath the weight of what locals say is an image problem tied to the rising tide of economic and political refugees landing on its shores.

For generations, Lampedusa's economy was based on fishing. That industry started suffering in the 1980s, after new competition came as a result of Spain's accession to the European Union and the EU's economies became more integrated. After that, tourism became the big earner air max womens nz , with visitors from Italy and across Europe attracted to the island's remote location and pristine beaches.

Now, the local population of 5,800 says a refugee problem that started with a trickle 20 years ago has grown to the point that it is starting to keep visitors away.

"Most people ever hears about when it comes to Lampedusa is the migrants," Damiano Sferlazzo, Lampedusa's vice mayor air max wholesale nz , said in an interview. "We are happy to be in a position to help these refugees, but I want to say the impact they have on day-to-day life in Lampedusa is relatively small."

The refugees, who are housed in a special center just outside the island's only town, tell harrowing stories about long, expensive air max shoes nz , and treacherous journeys to arrive in Lampedusa.

"It took many months to make it here, and parts of the trip were very, very frightening," 16-year-old Ahmed Ali told Xinhua, adding that his journey to Lampedusa from his native Somalia included stops in Kenya air max nz , Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Libya.

Once on the island, they are processed and then sent on to Sicily or points further afield for data assimilation and to determine the validity of asylum requests. Most end up settling in northern Europe cheap nike air max trainers nz , where there are more economic opportunities and where populations of migrants with similar backgrounds are already based.

More and more of the refugees die en route. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says that until the last two years the percentage of refugees who die making the crossing has risen from around 2 percent to around 5 percent of a much larger group.

While they wait to be processed on Lampedusa, they are allowed to leave the refugee center and make the short walk into town, where they mix with local residents split between those eager to help and a sometimes hostile group who would rather the refugees land elsewhere.

"The island is evenly split when it comes to how they see the refugees," 53-year-old Melo Gatani, who operates a small bed-and-breakfast on the island. "The way I look at it is that this is a small island cheap nike air max free shipping nz , and island residents have a tradition of helping out people in need."

The system for processing the migrants is efficient and low key. Migrants arrive in port, then they are loaded onto buses and taken to the refugee center where they are fed, given provisions, and receive medical care if needed. Local leaders say they want the tourists to keep coming.

"There's an economic stress for us, and it's true we need more help from Europe cheap nike air max mens nz ," Sferlazzo said. "But we are still able to balance our two roles, to help those who need it and to be a good vacation spot for tourists who come. One role doesn't impact the other."

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