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Kunqu opera classic charms London


09-30-2016 17:43 BJT

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the deaths of both Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu and his British counterpart, William Shakespeare. To commemorate the two literary giants, the Kunqu opera "Peony Pavilion" written by Tang during the Ming Dynasty, has come to London.

The traditional Chinese Kunqu opera "The Peony Pavilion - The Young Lovers' Edition" has been staged in London from Wednesday to Friday, as part of the China-United Kingdom cultural exchange year.

Written by Tang Xianzu in the Ming Dynasty, "The Peony Pavilion" is considered a romantic masterpiece in Chinese opera history.

Produced by renowned author Pai Hsien-yung, this version of The Peony Pavilion made its debut in Taipei in 2004.

Since then, it has been performed more than 290 times in 16 countries, including the United States, where it received high praise.

And this time it's London's audience that are resonating with the ancient love story.

The ’Peony Pavilion’ tells a love story from the southern Song Dynasty.

Sixteen-year-old Du Liniang, a daughter from a rich family, meets a young scholar in her dreams and promises to marry him. When she wakes up, she yearns for her lover and falls ill.

The young maiden soon die of love sickness, but her soul meets the young scholar again. He helps her return to life by reuniting her soul with her body. A fairy tale ending ensures that the two live happily ever after.

"For me, the Kunqu opera is more expressive than western opera, there's a lot of body movement involved so the audience can feel more connected with the characters," said Shen Fengying, lead actress, Kunqu Opera "The Peony Pavilion".

The Kunqu opera, originating from the Beijing opera, was once one of the most well-known opera styles in China. And in 2001 was recognized by UNESCO as being part of the world’s intangible heritage.

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