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Shanghai’s Yuyuan Garden to present Kunqu Opera

Kunqu Opera performances are coming back to Shanghai’s Yuyuan Garden, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. It is the return of a long-standing tradition, but this time there will be opera versions of Shakespeare plays, too.

Shanghai’s Yuyuan Garden.

After a year of preparations, the new Kunqu Opera theater will present its first show on this stage, on the fourth floor of Hefeng Mansion on Nov 6. One story from the famous Chinese novel Dream of Red Mansions was tailor-made for the stage, depicting the unspoken love between a rich young man and a nun. The first performance will be held indoors, but the crew members say they could set the stage up outside in the future.

Gu Haohao, director of Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe, said: “We will tailor-make different shows for the space. Next, we will present ‘Peony Pavilion’, ‘Palace of Eternal Life’, and even a Kunqu Opera remade from Shakespeare’s plays. And we will design different stages and settings according to different shows.”

One story from the famous Chinese novel the Dream of Red Mansions was tailor-made for the stage.

The theater is connected with an outdoor balcony where viewers can take a rest and enjoy a view of Yuyuan Garden. And this area will also be used to present other traditional Chinese art forms such as painting, calligraphy, and Suzhou Embroidery.

“We bring the traditional Kunqu Opera to such a traditional place. But we want to promote a modern lifestyle. So we combine the traditional cultural spirit of Yuyuan with a modern lifestyle. And that is just a start. If audiences like it, we will try more new things at Yuyuan,” said Executive Vice President of Yuyuan Tourist Mart Shi Miao.

Around 60 Kunqu Operas will be staged in the theater with shows every Friday night throughout the year.

Richard Brostowycz said: “I think it would be excellent to have cultural performances. And I think it should be focused on the tradition in China, much more than, let’s say, modern pop music or anything like that. But basically the traditional Chinese culture.”

“I’ll watch it if I have time. And the ticket price is better if it is lower than 50 yuan,” said Jiang Li.

It has become a new trend to bring traditional Chinese arts like Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera from the regular stage to real gardens and scenic spots, to win over young viewers.