Shao Tianshuai, a star with the Northern Kunqu Opera Theater, is known for her performances of The Peony Pavilion and A Dream of the Red Mansions. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Cong Zhaohuan sits in a spacious courtyard surrounded by brick walls that are being torn down. A six-story building, which is being emptied, is nearby.
It's the location of the Northern Kunqu Opera Theater, where Cong, 86, has worked for six decades.
Located in downtown Beijing, the Northern Kunqu Opera Theater is the only professional theater in northern China dedicated to Kunqu, a Chinese opera with a history of around 600 years. Born in the regions south of the Yangtze River, such as Suzhou, Jiangsu province, Kunqu Opera is performed in the melodic Suzhou dialect.
Combining singing, dancing and acting, the art form was listed as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2001.
"This place is like a gold mine. You cannot imagine how many great Kunqu artists worked here and how many masterpieces they created here," says Cong.