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Inheriting Kunqu Opera

yu manwen and zhang jingxian

俞鳗文(Yu Manwen), a drama director born in 1981, says her life is motivated by the twin dreams of promoting a new genre of woman’s psychological theater and of preserving the old art of Kunqu Opera. “Kunqu is like my lover, and drama is likemy relatives. I want to bring Kunqu to new heights. Dreaming is the bravest thing in the world, or the most cowardly.”

Yue Meiti - Kunqu Opera's great survivor

Yue Meiti plays a young male role in a Kunqu Opera performance

Kunqu, also known as Kunju, Kun opera or Kunqu Opera, is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera. It evolved from the Kunshan melody, and dominated Chinese theatre from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The style originated in the Wu cultural area.
Kunqu was developed during the late Ming Dynasty (14th century), and a famous early pioneer was Gu Jian of Qiandeng town in Kunshan. Kunqu has influenced on many other Chinese theatre forms, including Jingju (Peking Opera). Its emergence ushered in the second Golden Era of Chinese drama.
Kun Qu songs are accompanied by a bamboo flute, a small drum, wooden clappers, gongs and cymbals, all used to punctuate actions and emotions on stage.

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