History is like a pile of ashes,
Remaining heat in its depths there may still be heat.
Our task is not to turn up the ashes that have gone cold,
But to insert our hands into the ashes,
To feel the heat that remains.
Kunqu Opera can trace its origins back to the late Ming Dynasty and a small town south of the Yangtze, called Kunshan.
Kunqu Opera is remarkable, if for nothing else, because of the long time it has been around. It continues to exert a strong appeal today.
Every period of history has its own fashions and tastes in clothing, music, etc. During the Ming Dynasty, it was fashionable among the intelligentsia to enjoy Kunqu Opera.
Perhaps the greatest masterpiece of Kunqu Opera is “The Peony Pavilion” written by Tang Xianzu in the early years of the 17th century.
The Qing Dynasty’s greatest playwrights, are Hong Sheng and Kong Shangren, who wrote, respectively, “The Palace of Eternal Youth” and “The Peach Blossom Fan”.
The popularity of Kunqu Opera historically has a lot to do with the support it received from the imperial court, from the time of Emperor Kangxi, onwards.
During the Qing Dynasty that followed, it became so popular that it was said to have an influence at every level of society, from the imperial court, down.´
Kunqu Opera can trace its origins back to the Ming Dynasty about six hundred years ago, and a small town south of the Yangtze, called Kunshan.
In the late Qing Dynasty, after five hundred years of development, Kunqu faced the greatest crisis in its existence.
Following the founding of New China, the policy of cultural reawakening offered Kunqu Opera the chance to emerge from a long period of neglect.
Kunqu Opera, considered the pinnacle of Chinese regional operas, is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Centuries after its emergence, Kunqu Opera appears well on its way to renewed stature.
In the new century, the artistry of Kunqu Opera blooms again. It´s found new audiences, at home and abroad. The ancient and elegant art is in the headlines. It´s a fashionable topic for young Chinese.
Wang Zhenyi is a Kunqu Opera artist from the Northern Kunqu Theater. The 33-year-old is becoming a big name amongst traditional opera fans as he is able to bring joy and sorrow with his talented performance.
British Students learn Kunqu Opera
Spaniards listen to Chinese Kunqu Opera
China & Japan team up for Kunqu show