The work is based on the traditional repertoire of jingju The Legend of the White Snake. It is a romance between a snake spirit and a human being, and is regarded as one of the four great folktales in China. It existed in oral tradition long before any written compilation. Scholars take the story about the white snake in Stories to Caution the World (Jing shi tong yan), a fictional narrative by Feng Menglong (1574-1645 AD), as a full written version of the oral legend. Feng’s story made the legend an architype, though it has been altered or revised and presented in a number of different local genres. There are also recent versions in film and television series.
The legend tells that after many years of cultivation and practice, a white snake and a green snake transform themselves into young women, the former is called Bai Suzhen (or Bai Niangzi, meaning Lady White), and the latter Xiao Qing (Little Green). They regarded each other as sisters. One day, they met a young scholar Xu Xian at the Broken Bridge on the Western Lake. Bai and Xu fall in love and eventually get married. Holding a grudge against the snakes, a powerful Buddhist monk Fahai interrupts their happy marriage, and manages to capture Xu Xian and to imprison him in the Jinshan Temple. Bai Suzhen rushes to the Jinshan Temple to rescue her husband. With the help of a military force drawn from the sea in the form of shrimps, crabs and the like, the white snake uses her magic to flood the temple and fights with Fahai’s force. However, Bai’s ability is limited due to her pregnancy with Xu Xian’s child. Finally Fahai defeats Bai Suzhen and imprisons her in the Leifeng Pagoda.
Following the formality of four movements of a symphony, Lady White is divided into four seasons: Spring (when Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian meet and fall in love), Summer (when they happily get married), Autumn (the famous scene of flooding the Jinshan Temple) and Winter (when Lady White is captured in the Leifeng Pagoda).
The first two clips are from the Spring, and the third clip is from Winter. Viewers can hear how the symphony composition has integrated the jingju musical elements, and how present day’s Chinese stage has adopted advanced technology.
按照交响乐四乐章的结构，这部《白娘子爱情四季》以春、夏、秋、冬为四部乐章的题目：“春”－白娘子和许仙相遇并相爱；“夏”－ 二人成婚；“秋”－著名的水漫金山的故事；“冬”－ 白娘子被镇在雷峰塔下。