New Delhi: China’s legendary opera comes to India on December 12, 2014 at Siri Fort Auditorium in the capital! The Sadir Theatre Festival brings to you China’s most-talked, extravagant and traditional style of theatre, the Kunqu opera. Winner of 24 National Awards, 'The Peony Pavilion' is a form of Chinese musical drama.
A show will also be held in Mumbai at Jamshed Baba Theatre. The opera stars two of China’s most celebrated artists, Zhang Yuanyuan and Shao Zheng.
Kunqu is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera and dominated the country’s cultural landscape from 16th to 18th century. Known as the “mother” of a hundred opera forms (including Peking opera), Kunqu was recognised as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001. Founded in 1957, the Beijing-based China Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre specialises in the northern style of Kun opera, researching and preserving traditional classics.
Also, it is not difficult to understand and has many similarities to Indian art forms. For example, the usages of hand gestures that are stylised to express a story like in Bharatanatyam or Koodiattam are similar to Kunqu.
Kunqu is a form of Chinese musical drama. But it is more than just drama: it is a combination of play, opera, ballet, poetry recital, and musical recital. It also draws on earlier forms of Chinese theatrical performances: mime, farce, acrobatics, ballad recital, and medley, some of which go back to the third century BC or even earlier.
The language of Kunqu is not the dialect of Kunshan or Suzhou, nor is it standard Mandarin. It is an artificial stage language, a modified Mandarin with some features of the local dialect.
About The Peony Pavilion
The Peony Pavilion is an enthralling love story of Du Liniang, the young daughter of a high official, who meets a young scholar named Liu Mengmei in her dream. The lyrical prose of The Peony Pavilion weaves a fabric of nuances and metaphors that elegantly transgresses the divide between the beauty of nature and man’s inner cosmos of emotions and desires. It also drives forth the persistent tone of youthful optimism.
It is a play written by Tang Xianzu in the Ming Dynasty and first performed in 1598 at the Pavilion of Prince Teng. One of Tang's 'Four Dreams', it has traditionally been performed as a Kunqu opera, but Chuan and Gan opera versions also exist. It is by far the most popular play of the Ming Dynasty, and is the primary showcase of the guimendan role type. All Kun theatre troupes include it in their repertoire. Recent adaptations have sought to inject new life into one of China's best-loved classical operas, though such efforts have met with opposition from the Kun opera traditionalists. Today it is a regular performance at ancient Imperial Granary Beijing. The play stars Zhang Yuanyuan and Shao Zheng.
About the artists
Zhang Yuanyuan: Zhang, one of the rising stars of the China Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre who has attracted critical acclaim for starring roles in The Peony Pavilion, Legend of the White Snake and The Jade Hairpin.
In 2005, Zhang was selected among the nation’s most promising young artists to train in Shanghai as part of a national programme to protect the legacy and art of Kunqu. In July 2012, she made her UK debut at the Beijing Cultural Week during the London Olympics.
Shao Zheng: An accredited National First Class actor, Shao Zheng has been particularly celebrated for his portrayal of the classic Kunqu scenes “Finding the Portrait” from The Peony Pavilion and “Seduction through the Zither” from The Jade Hairpin. Shao Zheng has also starred in many full -scale Kunqu productions, including The Peony Pavilion, Romance of the Western Chamber, The Palace of Eternal Youth to Guan Hanqing. Shao first came to prominence in 1993, when he was awarded the top prize in the Beijing Youth Traditional Opera Competition.