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Butterfly Lovers to take center stage
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Western people cry for Romeo and Juliet while the Chinese weep over Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai.

Chinese composers Chen Gang and He Zhanhao have created a violin concerto based on the tragic Chinese love story Butterfly Lovers. Though it is a story also widely known in the West, the most original and popular interpretation of the story in China is a Yueju play.

Yueju Opera Butterfly Lovers is staged at the National Theater for the Performing Arts tonight. [China Daily]

The Shaoxing Xiaobaihua Yueju Opera Company brings the famous repertoire Butterfly Lovers to the National Center for the Performing Arts tonight.

Popular in the southern region near the Yangtze River, the Shaoxing opera originated a century ago around Shengxian county, Zhejiang province. Because it belonged to the Yue Stage in ancient times, it was also called Yueju Opera. Derived from a kind of story-telling, Yueju Opera is noted for its lyricism and sweet tunes that give the performances local color.

One of the most popular repertoires of the Yueju Opera, Butterfly Lovers is a story that begins when Zhu Yingtai, a woman disguised as man, goes to Hangzhou to study. On the way, she meets Liang Shanbo and they become sworn "brothers".

When they have to part after three years in school, Zhu hints that she is a woman, but Liang does not understand. Later, when Liang learns the truth, he hurries to Zhu's family to make an offer of marriage, but finds Zhu's father has married her to the son of the county magistrate.

With grief and indignation, Liang dies of illness. As Zhu stands crying in front of Liang's tomb, it opens, and Zhu jumps into it - and the two lovers turn into butterflies.

Mao Weitao, one of the best Yueju actresses in China as well as the director of the Shaoxing Xiaobaihua Yueju Company will star in the show.

(China Daily August 7, 2008)

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