Chinese opera season: old traditions, new twists

Ma Yue
Traditional Chinese opera fans can look forward to a feast of performances during the 12th Classic Chinese Opera's Series at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.
Ma Yue

Traditional Chinese opera fans can look forward to a feast of performances, some with modern twists, during the 12th Classic Chinese Opera’s Series at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center from March 13 to April 26.

Fourteen productions in 17 shows will be staged, featuring classic styles like Peking, Kunqu, Yueju, Huju and Xiju operas, as well as Shanghai farce drama. The annual event gives Chinese traditional artists a boost in public recognition and helps cultivate young audiences.

“New Dragon Inn,” presented by Shanghai Peking Opera Co, will open the series. Adapted from a popular movie of the same name, the production will star versatile Peking Opera artist Shi Yihong, who will switch between the two leading roles of Jin Xiangyu and Qiu Moyan in the performance.

“We want to present an old story innovatively,” said Shi. 

“The work will be artistic yet engaging for audiences of all ages.”

Chinese opera season: old traditions, new twists
Ti Gong

Peking Opera artist Shi Yihong will switch between the two leading roles in “New Dragon Inn.”

Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe will wrap up the series with a complete version of Tang Xianzu’s “Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall.”

The series will also include classic tales such as “The Tale of Handan,” “The Purple Hairpin,” “The Tale of Southern Bough” and “The Peony Pavilion.”

“Kunqu prince” Zhang Jun is bringing his new show “Kun Plug” to Shanghai. This innovative performance, scheduled on April 3, superimposes a variety of musical genres, including electronic, jazz and rock and roll, onto the classic tradition of Kunqu Opera. The audience is promised a new acoustic experience.

Other shows of note include “Thunderstorm” and the original work “The Top Secret,” both by the Shanghai Huju Opera Troupe, and “The West Chamber” by the Shanghai Yueju Opera Troupe.

Two Xiju Operas — “Sha Jia Bang” and “The Pearl Pagoda” — will also be making rare appearances in Shanghai. Xiju Opera originated in the city of Wuxi in neighboring Jiangsu Province.

Shanghai comedian Wang Rugang will star in the Shanghai farce drama “The Temptation on the Tip of the Tongue,” presented by the Shanghai People’s Farce Troupe on March 30 and 31.

Chinese opera season: old traditions, new twists
Ti Gong

“Kunqu prince” Zhang Jun (second right) will stage his new show “Kun Plug,” an innovative performance aiming to bring the audience a new acoustic experience.

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