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Kunqu returns to its debut venue
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A scene from the Kunqu opera "Floating Dreams" [Photo: yule.sohu.com] 

A Kunqu opera which incorporates classic scenes premiered Sunday at Prince Gong's Mansion, in celebration of the upcoming opening of the oldest Kunqu venue in Beijing.

"Floating Dreams" came to the capital from Jiangsu Kunqu Opera House in Jiangsu Province, where Kunqu originated about 600 years ago.

Its cast, led by award-winning performer Ke Jun, features four generations of artists from the prestigious opera house, Guangming Daily reports.

The six-act play, which combines scenes from such classics as "The Peony Pavilion," highlights dreams, a frequent subject in Kunqu plays, the report says.

Leading American soprano Renee Fleming, who was in Beijing for an Olympic-themed concert series, was among the audience members.

The opera will run until Saturday.

Kunqu, the oldest form of Chinese opera, has spawned a diversity of genres, including the world famous Peking opera.

Historical documents show that Kunqu was first performed in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) at Prince Gong's Mansion, which was then occupied by a royal family.

"Floating Dreams" also gave the audience an early peek at the mansion before its official opening this Wednesday.

Hailed as Beijing's best-preserved royal mansion, Prince Gong's Mansion will be opened to the public for the first time since its completion in 1777. Gardens in the compound, which opened to tourists in 1988, are a favorite destination for travelers.

(CRI August 19,2008)

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