Kunqu Repertoire: A Treasure House of Drama and Literature

2009-06-25 21:37 BJT

In its 600-year history, Kunqu has accumulated a repertoire of more than 400 "zhezixi" (highlights from operas). Some of their scripts were written by outstanding playwrights. Guan Hanqing, for instance, wrote more than 60 zaju (poetic dramas), including "The Injustice to Dou E" (also known as "Snow in Midsummer"). The Kunqu repertoire contains 18 of his preserved poetic dramas, some of which continue to be performed on stage.

Other masterpieces include "The West Chamber" by Wang Shifu, "The Peony Pavilion" by Tang Xianzu, "The Palace of Eternal Youth" by Hong Sheng, and "The Peach Blossom Fan" by Kong Shangren.

The West Chamber" tells of a romance set against the ancient feudal society, in which a young man and woman pursue their rights to freedom of marriage. This opera became known to the masses of China over a period of one thousand years. This poetic drama, written by Wang Shifu, attained an extremely high artistic level as regards its lyrics, music, plot and performing skills and became what is today a classic among Chinese dramas. In one act, "Farewell at the Rest Pavilion," the lyrics describing the scenery are particularly moving. Nowadays, there are few performers who can sing arias such as this, but there are many people who recite these peerless verses for personal enjoyment.

Editor: Zhao Yanchen | Source: CCTV.com