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Kunqu Opera--World's Oldest Opera


Kunqu Opera Kunqu Opera (昆曲) is one of the kinds of Chinese opera singing and drama style. The significant characteristics are elegiac lyricism, delicate gestures and expressions, and great harmony in singing tone and dancing motions. The musical accompaniment consists of Chinese ancient instruments such as Chinese flute, suona trumpet, sanxian, pipa and traditional percussion. It traces its origin to the late Yuan Dynasty in Kunshan (昆山), east of Suzhou city. Gu Jian (顾坚) and some others compiled the local folk operas and songs, and improved. He called the new born genre as "Kunshan Singing Style", which was the rudiment of modern Kunqu Opera. Opera masters in Ming and Qing Dynasties have renovated and arranged the tone and singing style of Kunqu, which absorbed the excellent ingredients from the operas in neighboring areas. During the years of reign of Wanli Emperor (1563 – 1620) of the Ming Dynasty, Kunqu performance troupes toured around China to spread their new culture to the whole nation. In the Qing Dynasty, Kunqu passed to Sichuan Province and south China regions. Thus, Kunqu Opera became a nationwide art form. But when Kunqu was introduced to a local area, it would absorb the local singing and drama styles. Regional dialects have played a great role in changing Kunqu too. Kunqu Opera has been listed in UNESCO's Intangible Heritage on 18 May, 2001.


Historically, the masters of Kunqu Opera include: Wei Liangfu, a Ming-dynasty man who was the opera musician and reformer of Kunqu opera, and used to be respectably called The Founder of Kunqu Opera and The Saint of Opera in China thanks to his unforgettable contribution to the maturity and perfection of Kuqu Opera; Yu Zhenfei who was another prominent Kunqu Opera performer(Mr. Yu was specialized in Chinese classical literature and expert in poem, essay, calligraphy and painting. Besides, he was also an excellent performer of Peking Opera, and he can blend these two operas together and formed his own unique style of performance. He was quickly famous for his bookishness)


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