Opera to give audiences greater insight into 'Daughter of Dunhuang'

Thirty Huju Opera "Daughter of Dunhuang" performances about Shanghai-born Fan Jinshi will be staged in Shanghai and Beijing through the year.

Thirty Huju Opera "Daughter of Dunhuang" about Shanghai-born Fan Jinshi, who spent half a century fighting to preserve the ancient Buddhist wall paintings at Dunhuang in northwest China's Gansu Province, will be staged in Shanghai and Beijing through the year.

"Daughter of Dunhuang" will be staged at venues including Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Mei Lanfang Theater, and Peking University.

Archaeologist Fan, the third director of the Dunhuang Research Institute, was born and grew up in Shanghai.

She was sent to Dunhuang after graduating from Peking University in 1963 and decided to remain there. Living in an abandoned temple, Fan devoted herself to protecting the treasures from sand and dampness.

"Daughter of Dunhuang" debuted at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center in the Pudong New Area on Wednesday night, allowing audiences to get to know 80-year-old Fan better.

Ti Gong

Huju Opera "Daughter of Dunhuang" makes a debut at Shanghai Oriental Art Center on Wednesday. 

The opera was performed by Shanghai Huju Theater. The team from the opera visited Dunhuang many times over the past five years to present the most realistic scene of Dunhuang.

Mao Shanyu, director of the theater who is the lead performer in the opera, acts Fan from 25 years old to 80. She blends Huju with Peking and Yue, or Shaoxing, operas, in the performance.

The stage setting replicates the scenes of the Mogao Caves, the desert and desolate mound of Dunhuang with light and shadow.

"It is not a story about me, but of all the Dunhuang people," said Fan. "There is just one Dunhuang in the world, and I want to protect it."

The 1,600-year-old Dunhuang Mogao Caves are a huge collection of Buddhist art with more than 2,000 Buddha figures and 45,000 square meters of paintings spread among 735 caves.

A seminar on the spirit of Fan and the opera performances was held on Thursday. As a local opera of Shanghai, Huju has a history dating back to over 200 years.

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