Culture\Music and Theater

Renewing the past

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-27 07:55

Renewing the past

Zhang Jun keeps pushing the boundaries of Kunqu Opera in projects like I, Hamlet and Blossoms on a Spring Moonlit Night (above).[Photo provided to China Daily]

It was perhaps a twist of fate. In 1986, when representatives of the Shanghai Drama School came to the metropolis' Qingpu district to recruit new students, Zhang Jun, then age 12, took the exam. His mother had him learn the accordion and the erhu (two-stringed fiddle), so Zhang signed up as an instrument major.

But to his surprise, after several rounds of interviews, Zhang found himself on the long list of candidates vying to study Kunqu Opera, an ancient Chinese theatrical art form.

Famous Kunqu Opera actress Zhang Xunpeng, a judge of the exam, told Zhang Jun's mother that her son's high-pitched, silky voice and slim, handsome face were perfect for xiaosheng, young male roles in the opera.

Three decades later, Zhang Jun has become one of China's top Kunqu Opera performers.

He won the Plum Performance Award, the highest honor for Chinese theater artists, and is regarded as the "prince of Kunqu". After graduating from the Shanghai Drama School, Zhang Jun earned his master's degree from the Shanghai Theater Academy.

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