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China should prevent Xiqu from being lost in translation

(People's Daily Online)

08:20, February 28, 2013

(File photo)

Translation is the first thing to consider when China introduces Xiqu, an important art form, to foreign countries. As the 20th century was Westerners' century, Xiqu was translated as Chinese opera, and its regional branches Jingju, Yuju, and Yueju were translated as Peiking opera, Henan opera, and Yue opera respectively. Although Xiqu is a comprehensive art form with unique and attractive Chinese characteristics, and is different from Western opera. It was blameless at the time to translate Xiqu as Chinese opera, which Westerners found easier to understand and accept.

Xiqu has a long history in China. There have been great dramatists such as Guan Hanqing, Wang Shifu, Tang Xianzu, and Hong Sheng, as well as classic Xiqu works like The Injustice to Dou E, The Orphan of Zhao, The Story of the Western Wing, The Peony Pavilion, The Palace of Eternal Life, and The Peach Blossom Fan. The Injustice to Dou E and The Orphan of Zhao were introduced to foreign countries in the 17th century, and gained great popularity there. Excellent Xiqu theorists such as Li Yu have created a complete set of Chinese Xiqu theories and terminologies. However, after Western theaters entered China at the beginning of last century, "modern theater" plays gradually dominated Chinese theoretical stages. Xiqu became an "outdated theater", and traditional Xiqu theories and terminologies were replaced by their Western counterparts.

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