Kunqu opera adaptation of 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' debuts

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A three-hour Chinese Kunqu opera adaptation of the classic French romance "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" has made its debut at Hangzhou Theater in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Kunqu is one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera with a history of more than 600 years. It was listed by UNESCO as a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2001. Many traditional Kunqu operas continue to be well-known today, including "The Peony Pavilion" and "The Peach Blossom Fan."

"We have respected the original work of Victor Hugo while also making some alterations in accordance with the requirements of Kunqu opera." said Chen Xingwu, one of the scriptwriters.

The names of the characters were translated into traditional Chinese names, with a given name and courtesy title for each role. Dialogue was presented in traditional opera librettos and ancient tunes.

"Many of the audience know the story of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, but it's still a fresh experience to watch it staged as a traditional Chinese opera," said Yang Zhenhua, a college student who viewed the performance.

"Traditional Chinese operas are actually very adaptable and inclusive. They have stronger visual effects and more dynamic performances than the western opera. We hope to bring the Chinese adaptation of the novel to more audiences," said Zhou Mingqi, head of the Zhejiang Kunqu troupe. 

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