New version of classic Kunqu Opera promote learning

2009-12-17 09:07 BJT


A new version of the classic Kunqu Opera "The Jade Hairpin" premiered in Beijing on Tuesday night. The performance raised the curtain on a five-year project, initiated by renowned Taiwan writer and Kunqu promoter Pai Hsien Yung, to promote the art of Kunqu among institutions of higher learning.

Written by Ming Dynasty playwright Gao Lian, The Jade Hairpin tells the circuitous love story between Southern Song Dynasty scholar Pan Bizheng, and Chen Miaochang, a Taoist nun.

One of the ten classic comedies in Chinese plays, "The Jade Hairpin" boasts modern visual effects utilizing the simplicity of oriental ink and wash drawings and simple yet elegant costumes. The new version of "The Jade Hairpin" is sending Kunqu opera into a new genre where ancient painting is combined with calligraphy and melodic tunes that resonate with modern audience.

Leading the cast are Yu Jiulin, playing the Young Male part, Pan Bizheng, and Shen Fengying, the Female part, Chen Miaochang. Both performers come from the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Troupe, which has long collaborated with Pai Hsien Yung, who is now considered a premiere promoter of Kunqu opera around the world.

Pai Hsien Yung, producer of "The Jade Hairpin", said, "Kunqu is national treasure."

The celebrated Taiwan writer is in partnership with Peking University to launch a five-year plan to rejuvenate interests in Kunqu, one of the oldest form of traditional Chinese opera. The program features academic courses, lectures, and performances, symposiums and the establishment of a digital database.

Cai Shaohua, director of Suzhou Kunqu Opera Troupe, said, "To include Kunqu opera into education is a very significant event for Kunqu performers like us. Before, Kunqu was viewed as an art form. Its cultural value is only now gradually being recognized. The art form is in dire need of an heir, and its audience deserves one. Education is the key to this rejuvenation. Only through this, can the cultural renaissance can be achieved. "

The courses at Peking University run from March to June next year. It's believed that the art form's popularity among young audiences is key to a glorious future for Kunqu.

Editor: Liu Fang | Source: