The new version of the Kunqu Opera "The Peony Pavilion" featuring artists from both sides of the Taiwan Straits premiered in China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Monday.
The opera kicked off the 16th Macao Arts Festival, which will last till April 2 to showcase diversified forms of arts from the east and the west.
Kunqu opera is the oldest form of Chinese folk opera, which was named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to its list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001.
Renowned Chinese playwright Bai Xianyong has rewritten "The Peony Pavilion", based on the traditional version, to make the century-old play more appealing to the youth. The production has cost efforts of artists across the strait. The main cast is young, and their embroidered costumes are flamboyant on stage.
In a recent lecture in Macao, Bai said that the opera maintains the original essence of the original play, which eulogizes love, freedom and the purity of youth. Performances of this production have toured Taipei, Hong Kong, Suzhou and Shanghai, where it was highly acclaimed by both critics and the public.
The Macao Cultural Institute, organizer of the art festival said that tickets for the opera were all sold out before the premiere, although most of the audiences are not so familiar with Kunqu here in Macao.
The nine-hour play divided into three parts will continue for another two days, one part for each night. Some audiences said that it cost quite some patience to stay still to watch the whole play, but it was worth to get familiar with the quintessence of the country's opera, especially when the artists have taken such a great effort to rejuvenate the aged-old version.
"The Peony Pavilion" is the masterpiece of Ming dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu. Premiered over 400 years ago, it is considered a brilliant work in which drama and literatures are ingeniously combined.
The opera tells the love story of Liu Mengmei and Du Liniang, which is full of frustrations in the feudal society. The lovers fearlessly pursue their dreams of love and freedom in and after their lives.