Friday, December 17, 2010

The Peony Pavilion - Condensed and Updated Kunqu Version in Shanghai

This article from September details the struggle in China to preserve Kunqu opera and earn the appreciation of new audiences through an updated version of The Peony Pavilion.  The production's director, lead actor and producer Zhang Jun believes that modernizing the opera is one way to build a new fan base:

Performed in the Qing-style Kezhi Garden, the hour-long “Peony Pavilion” isn’t simply catering to Kunqu opera lovers. The show has been updated to appeal to a wider audience, hoping to revive the art. The most striking change is that instead of the full 18-hour long show, which was presented in 1999 at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, the Zhujiajiao performance is only 60 minutes, condensed for the modern Chinese audience. Less time means a need for greater impact in those 60 minutes, so this time around, Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun and choreographer Huang Doudou, one of China’s most celebrated modern dancers, are both part of the abbreviated production.  

Read the entire article HERE
I'm not sure how I feel about adding sleek production elements and celebrity figures to help bring about a new fan base for Chinese opera (this strikes me as rather flashy and out of context), but all art forms undergo stylistic changes as a result of the era in which they're produced.  On that note, I see no reason why modernized operas shouldn't receive critical attention, but I also hope that historical research and carefully examined source materials (like those that were considered for the making of 1999's full-length Peony Pavilion) will continue to inform traditional Chinese opera productions of quality alongside other modernized versions.   

No comments:

Post a Comment