Kunqu Opera: Peach Blossom Fan (1699)

Date:2009-06-22      Source:National Centre for the Performing Arts

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Presenter: Jiangsu Provincial Kunqu Opera Theatre 

Cast: Shi Xiaomei, Hu Jinfang, Huang Xiaowu, Ke Jun, Shan Wen, Luo Chenxue, Shi Xiaming, etc. 
Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts - Theatre 
Dates: July 10 - 12, 2009    19:30 
Price:  VIP    360    260    160    120    80 RMB 


Programme Introduction
The Peach Blossom Fan is the landmark of the Chinese ancient legends. Tian Qinxin, Director of the Kunqu Opera – The Peach Blossom Fan (1699) – has invited the world-renowned artists to present an immortal masterpiece that will be passed from generation to generation.

The stage design for the play highlights simplicity and smart space: the stage contains smaller stages, the cloisters on both sides are painted with the painting works of the Ming Dynasty – The Map of the Prosperous Southern Capital - a masterpiece comparable to Life along the Bian River at the Pure Brightness Festival, and the mirror floor clearly reflects the human figures to render the effect of the shining waves.

The stage will also present rare treasures: Almost 200 sets of performing costumes that are all manually embroidered; the music score that will be sung again by the people today; the fan inscribed by Yu Zhenfei, the Kunqu Opera master; the headwear passed down from the ancestors of the famous masters, and the Ming Dynasty furniture.

Shi Xiaomei, Hu Jinfang, Huang Xiaowu and Ke Jun, known as four "Plum Blossoms", will show up on the same stage to give a classical performance by three generations of Kunqu Opera actors.

Using a peach blossom fan as the plot, the play expresses the emotion of rise and fall through the emotion of departure and reunification by elaborately combining the love story between Hou Fangyu, a famous scholar of Fushe, and Li Xiangjun, a famous prostitute in the Qinhuai River Region, with the political decay of the Southern Ming Dynasty. The play invites deep thinking and review.

Hou Fangyu got to know Li Xiangjun in a Nanjing brothel, and got engaged with each other. Ruan Dacheng, a remnant of the eunuch party, sent trousseaux to Li Xiangjun in private to buy Hou Fangyu after knowing the hero was financially tight. Li Xiangjun saw through the plot of Ruan Dacheng, and insisted on returning the trousseaux. Later, Ruan Dacheng brought a false charge against Hou Fangyu, saying Hou was collaborating with Zuo Liangyu to betray the court, and Hou was forced to escape Nanjing.

After Chongzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, hanged himself, Ma Shiying and Ruan Dacheng were in power again by supporting Prince Fu. They forced Li Xiangjun to diverse Hou Fangyu and marry Tian Yang, a follower. Li Xiangjun preferred to die rather than yield, and committed a suicide, with her blood sprayed on a fan, on which a love poem was inscribed. Yang Longyou, a friend of Hou and Li, painted the blood spots on the fan into peach blossoms on bent branches, and named it "The Peach Blossom Fan".

The Qing troops marched southwards, defeated Shi Kefa, a general of the Southern Ming Dynasty, and overthrew the Southern Ming Dynasty.

Hou and Li met each other again after ups and downs. However, where would be their end after the country was destroyed.

A Taoist surnamed Zhang on the Qixia Mountain enlightened them, saying "The Peach Blossom Fan was broken". Then, Hou and Li then became the Taoist worshipers. 
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