Latest News:  
Beijing   Sunny/Cloudy    32 / 23 ℃  City Forecast

English>>Life & Culture

Kunqu Opera in the Olympic limelight in London

By Mu Qian (China Daily)

09:32, August 06, 2012

Today's audiences can respond to the art and emotions of the ancient form of Kunqu Opera.

China's Kunqu Opera was recently performed for the first time at the Shaw Theater of London - and to great acclaim.

The theater, named after Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, hosted two performances of the genre as part of Beijing Culture Week in London. The Northern Kunqu Opera Theater staged A Dream of Red Mansions on July 24 and The New Legend of Pipa on July 25.

These works are not the genre's best-known, but troupe's vice-president Cao Ying believes they represent important aspects of Kunqu Opera.

A Dream of Red Mansions, which is based on the namesake classical novel, is an original work that made its debut last year. The New Legend of Pipa is a recently revived work that hadn't been performed for 300 years. Its playwright, Cao Yin (1658-1712), was the grandfather of A Dream of Red Mansions' author, Cao Xueqin (1724-1763).

"Kunqu is regarded as the 'origin of a hundred operas' in China," Cao Ying says.

"It has a history of 600 years and has influenced not only many styles of Chinese opera but also Chinese literature, music and art."

In the novel A Dream of Red Mansions - one of China's "Four Great Classical Novels" - there are 26 depictions of Kunqu, the best-known one of which is when heroine Lin Daiyu is enchanted by 12 girls singing Kunqu in the 23rd chapter.

However, there was never a Kunqu adaptation of A Dream of Red Mansions, except for some excerpts, until the Northern Kunqu Opera Theater premiered their version last year.

Written in the middle of the 18th century, A Dream of Red Mansions tells about the rise and decay of a noble family and, by extension, of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The best-known plotline of the work is the tragic love story between hero Jia Baoyu and heroine Lin Daiyu, who are forced apart by Jia's family, Romeo and Juliet-style.

"A Dream of Red Mansions is a great work that covers various dimensions of feudal China, including the political, social and cultural - and even medicine and food. It's a great challenge for us to put it onstage," the work's general director Cao Qijing says.

Traditionally, there was no director in Kunqu Opera, and the leading actors and actresses decided the form of presentation. But today's directors are getting more involved in traditional Chinese operas.

"I think this is something natural as arts become more multidimensional, although I have a principle of not changing the original aesthetics of the ancient art of Kunqu Opera," Cao Qijing says.

【1】 【2】


Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Chinese navy ship visits Bulgaria

  2. Sculpture of Nelson Mandela unveiled in S. Africa

  3. US launches two trade remedy actions against China

  4. Sand painting contest held in Zhoushan, China's Zhejiang

  5. Weird body art

  6. Places in China---Chéngdū

Most Popular


  1. Editorial: Mission for eurozone leaders
  2. UN resolution adds pressure to Syria gov't
  3. What is wrong with products made in China?
  4. Indian blackout: result of neglect of livelihood
  5. Editorial: Economic food for thought
  6. Detachment no serves China's interest in ME
  7. US sanctions on China's bank ridiculous
  8. Editorial: Do business, not politics
  9. Arrival of Chinese fleet rattles EU
  10. India’s blackout offers lesson to China

What's happening in China

Train kills woman who ignored alarm at Wudaokou railroad crossing

  1. Major crackdown in fake medicine scam
  2. Compensation sought from train crash
  3. Haikui approaching China's eastern coast
  4. 79 dead in Beijing devastating rainstorm
  5. China nabs 137 for organizing organ sale

China Features

  1. Why Hollywood favores China's actresses?
  2. Dongfeng Honda to recall 76,000 CR-Vs
  3. How to protect yourself during heavy rainstorms?
  4. Are synthetic drugs toxic?
  5. Amway vitamin C tablets short in weight

PD Online Data

  1. Spring Festival
  2. Chinese ethnic odyssey
  3. Yangge in Shaanxi
  4. Gaoqiao in Northern China
  5. The drum dance in Ansai