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Full-length Kunqu Opera classic back to Beijing
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Actors dressed in traditional Kunqu costumes attend a promotion for the full-length version of Kunqu Opera classic, "The Palace of Eternal Youth," in Beijing, on Monday, February 25, 2008.

A full-length version of the Kunqu Opera classic, "The Palace of Eternal Youth," will be staged in Beijing on April 30.

Producers launched this play during a promotion of Kunqu Opera held in the city on Monday, reported The Beijing News.

Kunqu Opera is China's oldest known opera form. "The Palace of Eternal Youth," which tells the tragic romance of Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his beloved imperial consort Yang Yuhuan, is one of the most celebrated Kunqu plays.

Its full-length version was first staged in Beijing in 1688.

"The Palace of Ete

rnal Youth" has altogether 50 scenes. But nowadays only a few dozen are usually performed.

An early version produced by Suzhou Kunju (also known as Kunqu) Opera Troupe from eastern Jiangsu province comprised only 27 scenes.

The coming full-length version, comprising 43 scenes, divided into four acts, will be running for ten hours at Beijing's Poly Theater. Audiences who don't want to miss any act have to come to the Poly Theater and watch the play in four consecutive days.

This is a rare opportunity for audiences to appreciate and understand the whole story of this famous play, said Cai Zhengren, lead actor who plays the part of Emperor Xuanzong.

This play is jointly produced by Shanghai Kunju Opera Troupe and Shanghai's Lyceum Theater.

(CRI February 27, 2008)

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