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Classic Opera “Romance of the Western Chamber” Brought the House Down on Campus

April 27, 2012      Author: Zhang Ying and Zhao Jiawei

On the evening of April 25, the classic repertoire of Shaoxing Opera (also known as Yueju Opera) Romance of the Western Chamber was put on stage on Minhang Campus as part of SJTU International Collegiate Culture and Arts Festival. Artists from Shanghai Yueju Opera House presented SJTU faculty and students this eternal romance in the three-hour performance which drew forth enthusiastic applause and the consensus praise of all audience.

Shaoying Opera Romance of the Western Chamber is adapted from Chinese dramatic works written by Wang Shifu. It is refined and smooth in lyrics and impressive in singing, reflecting the romance between Zhang Sheng and Cui Yingying, full of twists and turns. Cui Yingying, daughter of the then Prime Minister, was elegant and restrained, while Zhang Sheng a young scholar who went to the capital city to take the highest imperial examination, was full of the graces of youth. A romance was budding once they set eyes on each other. Zhang Sheng displayed his outstanding discretion and intelligence when saving Yingying from danger while his infatuation with her made him both silly and lovely. With the help of Hong Niang, Yingying's maid, they broke the traditional barrier. But Yingying's mother stood in the way to require Zhang to pass the examination before marrying Yingying. Finally, the lover-birds had to depart from each other in Changting Pavilion. The memory of the audience was freeze-framed in this affectionate and sad scene.

This star-studded performance was presented by artists from different artistic schools: Yang Tingna from Xu School has clear and resounding singing, which best performs the lovesickness of Zhang Sheng; Chen Huidi from Yuan School has a soft and supple figure, which makes Yingying's reserved manner evident; Sheng Shuyang from Fu School is lively and lovely, breathing life into the warm-hearted and brave Hong Niang; Wu Qun from Zhang School is steady in singing and decent in mien, giving a vivid description of Mrs. Cui, a guardian of feudal ethics and rites. No doubt that the audience was enchanted in the fluctuations of the plot.

At the end of the opera, the audience stood up and thanked the artists with the warmest applause. An SJTU student said the Romance of the Western Chamber was so fascinating and intriguing by unfolding dramatic conflict one after another, all pivoting on 'affection'. The melodious singing of Shaoxing Opera and lifesome performance of the cast let us furbish up the Chinese cultural treasures with a brand-new understanding of traditional opera forms.


Translated by Tian Cong