Peony blooms afresh

Updated: 2014-11-24 07:23

By Chen Nan(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Peony blooms afresh

Wang Fengmei, 69, from Zhejiang Kunqu Opera Troupe, plays Du Liniang, the leading female role in the classic The Peony Pavilion. Photo provided to China Daily

Shen Shihua's fascination with The Peony Pavilion began in 1954, when she joined Zhejiang Kunqu Opera Troupe. Just 13 years old then, she couldn't fully understand the secret romance between the two leading characters, Du Liniang—a young daughter of a high official—and Liu Mengmei—a young scholar. However, she was touched by the love story and the beautiful style of Kunqu Opera.

Shen performed as Du Liliang for the first time in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in 1955. The performance enabled Shen not only to become a budding star in her troupe but also gave her the reputation as one of the three best Kunqu Opera actresses at the time in southern China, along with Zhang Jiqing from Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Troupe and Hua Wenyi from Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe.

"I had performed the role of Du Liniang so many times that sometimes I felt that she was just another me," recalls Shen, 74.

However, in 1984, after performing a scene from The Peony Pavilion called "The Interrupted Dream", Shen moved to Beijing with her husband and started teaching Kunqu Opera at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

During the past 30 years, Shen became the first female professor of Kunqu Opera in China and she has trained a number of students. More than 30 of them have won the Plum Blossom Prize, China's top award for dramatic performances. Despite those achievements, she still had a personal ambition: She hoped to perform Du Liniang again.

Next month, her dream will come true. She will return to the stage and play the role in the latest version of the 600-year-old opera, which was written by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616). Eighteen established Kunqu Opera masters, including Hua Wenyi, Shi Xiaomei and Wang Fengmei, will perform in the show.

"For a very long time, I lamented leaving the stage and felt frustrated that the audiences had forgotten me. I thought my dream with The Peony Pavilion was interrupted forever," says Shen, with excitement in her eyes even though 30 years have passed since she last took up the role.

Previous Page 1 2 3 Next Page