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Suzhou’s newly built hub of Kunqu opera

Updated: Dec 19,2014 10:36 AM

The Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater has been rebuilt from ground up in the city of Suzhou in East China’s Jiangsu province.

Kunqu Opera was developed more than 600 years ago and has influenced many other forms of Chinese opera, including Peking Opera.

The first performance at the new theater is an adapted version of the classic piece “The Peony Pavilion,” which attracted audience members young and old. The unique sounds and splendidly written lines left spectators mesmerized.

“I think the stage effects were really good. I brought my son here to get a feel of Kunqu opera. He may not understand it, but the music, costumes, and singing will leave a deep impression on him,” said a viewer.

The theater also features an exhibition of the exquisite props and costumes used in past Kunqu opera performances. They were designed by Timmy Yip, an Academy Award winner in art direction for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

“With a top class theater like this,we want to present a rich Kunqu Opera experience that is more than stage shows. It also involves performing in classic Suzhou gardens. I think this will really draw people to the art,” said Chen Shaohua, director of Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater.

The structure uses the colors of black, white and gray, classic colors of the quaint city walls and buildings of Suzhou. The main hall can seat up to 300 audience members and is also used for practice charity performances.

“This has been my dream for a decade, to have this theater here in the birthplace of Kunqu Opera. This will serve as the Mecca of Kunqu opera and will be place to exert influence and pass on the art,” said Pai Hsien-Yung, writer/playwright.

After 60 years of hard work, artists in Suzhou have made Kunqu opera one of the most successful outlets in being adapted to contemporary China among other forms of Chinese opera. With the aid of this brand new theater, it seems they are better equipped than ever to pass on the art.