《临川四梦》之《南柯梦记》 Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall – A Dream Under the Southern Bough by Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe 上海昆剧团
Depressed and laying in a drunken slumber under the old pagoda tree, a discharged army official Chun Yufen dreams that he visits the kingdom of ants. In his dream, he marries the princess and is appointed to an illustrious position in the kingdom. He achieves numerous successes and becomes an influential figure. Unfortunately, upon the passing of his wife, his power and arrogance turned him into the target of much jealousy, and he was ultimately sent into exile. Waking from his dream, Yufen realises that all his accomplishments were an illusion. A priest performs a religious ceremony to help the soul of his deceased wife find peace, and he chooses to seek enlightenment from Buddhism.
Disillusioned by the corruption of the imperial court, it is said that despondent drunkard Yufen embodied the author’s own struggles with worldly ambition.
Cast: Luo Chen Xue, Wei Li
About Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall
For every Kunqu performer, it is a dream to be a part of Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall. Written by influential Ming dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu, it is a collection of four outstanding classic operas regarded for its culture value and philosophical thoughts. Author Wang Siren, Tang’s contemporary, summarised the collection as chivalry (A Pair of Purple Hairpins), love (The Peony Pavilion), Buddhist meditation (A Dream Under the Southern Bough) and immortality (The Tale of Handan). These four dreams are the crystallisation of Tang’s experiences, insights and artistry, and have long been regarded as the benchmark of excellence for Kunqu works. Four centuries later, the incomparable brilliance of these Four Dreams still shines bright.
To mark the 400th anniversary of Tang Xianzu’s passing in 2016, Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe began touring performances of Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall to various parts of the world. The performances were well-received regionally and internationally in major Chinese cities, as well as in USA, Czech Republic and Belgium.
The Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe believes in respecting and revering tradition and is dedicated to the continuation and promotion of Kunqu. This is the spirit which the troupe adopted in their approach towards the production of the Four Dreams. A dream unfolds each evening, and over the course of four nights, the troupe weaves a cohesive experience for audiences through imaginative staging that brings alive the literary beauty of Tang’s words and the aesthetic essence of Kunqu.
These works are performed by opera icons as well as younger performers who are given the opportunity to share the stage with Kunqu masters. The result is an elegant expression of Kunqu that is both precise and nuanced — a worthy homage to one of the oldest opera genres in the world.