《临川四梦》之《牡丹亭》 Four Dreams in the Camellia Hall – The Peony Pavilion by Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe 上海昆剧团
Du Liniang is the daughter of a high-ranking official. After dreaming of a young scholar she meets in a peony pavilion, Du wakes up and wastes away her life pinning for the scholar before passing away with a broken heart. Her devotion moves the underworld. Three years later, scholar Liu Mengmei chances upon Du’s portrait in the garden where she is buried beside the peony pavilion. Convinced that he has met Du before, a sense of romantic déjà vu fills him. His exhortations of love bring Du back to life and the lovers reunite for a happy ending,
Regarded as one Tang Xianzu’s most celebrated work, The Peony Pavilion weaves a tale of love with the beauty of nature through the usage of lyrical metaphor.
Cast: Li An, Shen Yili
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.