You need to know the past to be able to go into the future,’ is the motto of Guo Wenjing, one of China’s most famous contemporary composers. Especially for the Nieuw Ensemble, he composed a chamber opera which combines traditional opera from his native Sichuan with his own music. The performance starts with a documentary made by Dutch filmmaker Frank Scheffer about the creation of the composition and its context. When the famous opera diva Shen Tiemei walks on stage, the film literally shifts to the background and the performance continues as the opera Si Fan. While the singer in her traditional costume conveys the old story of a young nun hankering for the love of a man and a life outside the convent, the music pits the rapid changes in China against its ancient culture and traditions: the inner landscape of a fascinating country.