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Kunqu opera introduced to colleges
Latest Updated by 2005-01-06 10:48:43

For Chinese college students, traditional Kunqu opera will no longer just be a description in a textbook, but part of campus culture. This year, the Chinese Ministry of Culture has required each of the country's seven professional Kunqu theaters to give 20 free public performances at Chinese colleges every year.

All costs of these performances will be covered by the central and local governments, said Lu Yuzhong, an official with the ministry's department of arts, at a recent national Kunqu seminar held in Hangzhou, capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province.

Lu said the move was part of the country's latest program to save, protect and support Kunqu opera, which was drafted last May.

Under the program, the Chinese Government will establish three to four Kunqu opera protection centers, create 10 new Kunqu opera scripts and rescue 15 classic scripts and 200 traditional scripts from 2005 to 2009.

In addition, the country will take steps to train new Kunqu opera players and organize more cultural activities to boost the popularity of Kunqu opera.

In Zhejiang, where Kunqu opera was once popular, the local Zhejiang Kunqu Theater has decided to perform at Zhejiang University and other colleges and to discuss new scripts with students.

"Only when Kunqu opera gets better known among the younger generation can it be passed down from one generation to another," said Lin Weilin, head of the Zhejiang Kunqu Theater.

Lin said China lacks a long-term plan to publicize its cultural heritage among the young generation. In that respect, the new program is a breakthrough.

The 600-year Kunqu opera, one of the oldest operatic forms in China, is considered the mother of traditional Chinese operas. It is known for its gentle and clear vocals, beautiful and refined tunes and dance-like stage performance.

The opera reached its peak of popularity by the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, exerting tremendous impact on other types of Chinese operas, including Beijing opera. However, toward the end of the Qing Dynasty, it lost its appeal to audiences and was on the verge of extinction.

Currently, there are only about 300 professional Kunqu opera players across the country and many traditional Kunqu opera scripts have been lost.

The fate of Kunqu opera has attracted worldwide attention. In 2001, Kunqu opera was inscribed in UNESCO's list of "oral masterpiece and intangible heritage of humanity."

Editor: Catherine

By: Source:szdaily web edition
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