Kunqu Opera discovers a new tune in its birthplace

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Originating from Qiandeng town, Kunshan in East China's Jiangsu province, Kunqu Opera has a history of more than 600 years.

Two dancers present the Kunqu-featured dance in the opening ceremony. [Photo by Liu Tianyang/chinadaily.com.cn]

As the cradle of Kunqu Opera, Kunshan has always been committed to the protection and inheritance of this unique opera and it was successfully inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2001.

In order to make Kunqu Opera more attractive for theatergoers and drive more audience to admire the charm of Kunqu Opera, the opening ceremony of the sixth Qiandeng Qinfeng Opera Fair was held in Qiandeng town on Sept 26.

"If you want to trace the spirit of Kunqu Opera, Qiandeng is the place to go to. It has achieved cultural cooperation and exchange under the premise of keeping the original Kunqu culture, which is a great achievement," said Zhou Qin, vice-chairman of the China Kunqu Opera and Guqin Research Institute.

In addition to the traditional Kunqu Opera performance, the Kunqu-featured dance unfolded the aura and charm of this exceedingly old opera to the audience through the beauty, strength, and grace that dancers revealed during the performance.

To embrace the youth culture, Kunqu Opera has developed a branch line during the inheritance. By combining the cultural phenomena that younger generations are passionate about, the new compilation of Kunqu Opera has largely changed in terms of its singing and pattern of manifestation.

"Kunqu Opera, as a form of artistic expression that has been active on the stage for a long time, needs to transform. The transformation, however, does not mean the change of the form. Young people like novelty so we need to have more thinking now," Zhou added.

Since its establishment, Qinfeng Opera Fair has been continuously joined by people of all ages who are interested in Kunqu Opera, and of course, foreign faces.

"I was surprised. Kunqu Opera is completely different from any opera forms I have ever seen in the world but I'm always willing to discover and try something new," said Andres Egana, a Spanish trainee of Qinfeng Opera Fair who has been working in Qiandeng town for two decades.

"I just joined this program couple of weeks ago but I have already mastered some movements. It's a huge accomplishment for me," Egana said.

Now, Kunqu Opera has enthusiasts worldwide and it's Qiandeng town's strategy to gather them and involve them in the promotion and inheritance of Kunqu culture. Meanwhile, a series of Kunqu-themed tour routes have been launched to enhance the sightseeing experience and the influence of this world cultural heritage.

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