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Artists From Japan, China Perform Traditional Opera

The full text of traditional Chinese opera Kunqu Legend of the White Snake was jointly staged, among others, here Saturday by Japan Kunqu Opera Friendship Society and North China Kunqu Opera Theater (NCKOT).

The event was aimed to mark the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relations between China and Japan.

It was the first time in 30 years the NCKOT has presented the full text of the opera, which featured young performers from both China and Japan.

Hisaka Maeda, who starred the main part, said that many Japanese love the Chinese Kunqu opera, and that she hoped to preserve the Kunqu scripts, so as to protect the invaluable cultural heritage.

Hisaka, now a doctoral degree student at Beijing Normal University, has studied Kunqu for more than 10 years under the instruction of Ma Xianglin and Zhang Yuwen, who are both well-known Kunqu artists in China. She has so far performed Kunqu's masterpieces including "Dream Betrothal" and "Zhaojun Goes to the Border".

Since its founding in 1989, the Japanese Kunqu Opera Friendship Society has held over 80 performances in China. It also collected many recordings of operas by old-generation artists and published scripts free of charge, to promote Kunqu in Japan.

According to experts, Kunqu, as the oldest form of Chinese opera, inspired some other opera forms including the Peking Opera. In May this year, Kunqu was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) among the 19 "masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity."

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2001)

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