There were more than 2300 poets in the Tang Dynasty and about 50 thousand poems were written, but Ruoxu Zhang left only one, entitled “A Moonlit River in Spring”, and it is considered the best of the Tang Dynasty. Later, scriptwriter Zhou Luo captured his story.
Zhang Jun shares with us the art of the Kunqu Opera which based on this story.
Published：December 24,2015,6:19 pm
Language：Chinese & English
Keyword：Kunqu Opera,Zhang Jun,Zhang Ruoxi,A Moonlit River in Spring,China,Art,Culture
I always say that Shaoxing Opera is reflection on life, Beijing Opera is a reflection on the world, and Kunqu Opera is a reflection on the universe. There were more than 2300 poets in the Tang Dynasty and about 50 thousand poems were written, but Ruoxu Zhang left only one, entitled “A Moonlit River in Spring”, and it is considered the best of the Tang Dynasty. Later, scriptwriter Zhou Luo captured his story. He based it around Ruoxu Zhang’s 28th year, when he achieved the third highest score in the imperial examination, and returned to Yangzhou to meet the love of his life - Yi Xin. He met her on a bridge and it was love at first sight - he knew that he would love her until his death.
To be able to write a story about men, ghosts, and fairies from a third person perspective in such an articulate and rhythmic way is very difficult for a scriptwriter to achieve. However, he wrote the perfect story and it is an ideal fit for the Kunqu Opera, therefore it was a natural choice for us to use it in a Kunqu Opera piece.
When it comes to writing a good script, we feel that multiple people must check it. After all, the script is only is only the first step, the right people must be chosen for the task, to make sure the production is of the highest level.
When I looked for actors, the first thing I did was tell them the story. All of them were touched by the characters, so they were all eager to be involved. There were many challenges in rehearsals. Challenge after challenge. The most difficult part was creating the music for voices.
The music for voices of each newly written script in the Kunqu Opera is different, that is, there is nothing to do but sing the tune with the music score everyday for three months to a half year. The first step is to recite the music for voices, and then explore the relationship between singing and acting, singing and the story, and singing and motion, which is very difficult.
There are not too many changes when it comes to Ruoxu Zhang’s stage clothes, but my teacher told me Ruoxu Zhang needs to wear white underclothes, and the outer layer should be white with white embroidery on it.
There are lots of different textures to the clothing. It looks extremely simple but the embroidery is extravagant. The clothes add to the other elements of the performance.
Kunqu Opera was listed as one of the 19 inaugural \"Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity\" by UNESCO in 2001. More attention is being paid to us, and our Kunqu Opera heroes. All of our troupes perform works in different manner.
I wanted to perform in a pavilion. I thought it would be an interesting artistic move to perform the story outdoors, as it really happened.
Returning to the Ming Dynasty when the Kunqu Opera was at its most interesting, bureaucrats and the literati were some of the Opera’s biggest fans. Plays would be held in the open air, with wind blowing, birds tweeting and the sounds of crickets and peasants taking care of plants and flowers in the garden.
We hope that Kunqu Opera can be made available to more people, loved and accepted.
When your play is shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in a French garden; you get to meet so many kinds of audiences. What kind of feedback do you get? A play is not just about an actor, it is about the audience too. They experience the story played by the actor in the space, there is nothing better than that.