One aspect of old China that Vitas stongly reappropriates is Asian spirituality, philosophy and religion- the most controversial of all. But things in China have been changing. I have read that the government does not bother the Christian churches springing up everywhere (although for the most part they are state-controlled), and most of the major monasteries have been restored. I have read that the government doesn't mind so long as it doesn't, from their perspective, get out of hand (eg Falun Gong).
|Vitas dressed as Buddhist monk |
in video 'Opera 1'
LYRICS TO OPERA 1 HERE
"We always want more than we have. . ."
He says his favorite book is the Bible. Although it is said that one of his parents is Jewish, from his songs he seems to be a practicing Christian; it appears from at least one song, Russian Orthodox. I would venture to guess that he has found for himself a comfortable mix of Christianity and eastern spiritualism.
The irony is, I believe his attraction to spirituality and religion actually increases Vitas' popularity; it helps the Chinese to feel in tune with him, as they are themselves reconstructing and piecing together a way of life simultaneously new and old.
|Vitas is originally from Latvia |
and grew up in Odessa, Ukraine
In what strikes me as controversial, Vitas wrote a song "Forgive Us, Lord," which outright apologizes to G-d for the churches having been destroyed in Russia. From the reference to the tzar, I cannot think this is anything other than an apology for the Russian Communists- like China- banning religion.
Some of the lyrics to "Forgive Us, Lord":
I shall wash myself with the holy water
And stand praying at the icon.
I ask God to absolve Russia from sins.
God, please forgive us for everything:
For the crosses that were pulled off the churches,
For the killed tzar,
And for the burnt icons...
FULL LYRICS HERE
|Vitas plays the Russian revolutionary Voitinsky, |
for Chinese movie 'Foundation of a Party'
Vitas good-naturedly participated in China's controversial star-filled propaganda blockbuster "Foundation of a Party" last year. He played Voitinsky, an early Russian revolutionary who was sent to China in the 1920s to help the new republic find its direction. Just as Vitas has come to China from Russia. Significantly, Voitinsky stayed only a few months and left China before Mao rose up.
Participating in propaganda as a founding Communist seems in contradiction to the other things I've said about Vitas, his spirituality and neutrality, and the song "Forgive Us, Lord." It's like he's coming at China from all different directions, simultaneously.
Catholic church in Dali, China
An artist is someone who is allowed to cross borders, bridging the distance between his culture and the host culture, making peace. The artist has, as it were, "diplomatic license" in what to say and do. A sort of "backdoor diplomat."
Vitas said in an interview, "I always return to China as if I return home."
I think Vitas' controversial 360 degree view actually makes him more popular. The new China is looking in all directions too; she is looking to reconcile the old with the new. It must be a confusing time for China as she opens up and yet stays the same. To me, Vitas is mirroring back to China not only her pride in herself, but her own tangle of new attitudes.
I have taken much liberty with my guesswork. Please let me know anything that I have gotten wrong.