Saturday June 14, 2008 2:00 pm
The Embroidered Silk Robe:
"The Lotus Song"
This program is a co-production of the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Wintergreen Kunqu Society. They are made possible, in part, with support from the Wintergreen Kunqu Society and the New York Chinese Opera Society.
Thanks to Ms. Chen Santzu （陳三資）of Pong Yi Qu Ji (蓬瀛曲集), Taiwan, and The Kunqu Society, New York, for assistance in this production.
A Marriage Proposal and Its Response
The first scene begins with Zhuangzi’s young wife, Tian Shi, lamenting her loneliness as a new widow. When the manservant arrives before her, very drunk, she asks him about his master and finds out that he is indeed young and unmarried. When she asks what kind of woman his master would like to marry, the manservant tells her someone like herself. This is all the incentive that Madame Tian needs and she begs the manservant to arrange the match for her.
In the second scene, which happens to take place a day later, the manservant returns to tell Tian Shi that although his master is very interested in such a match, there are problems: How can a marriage take place when Zhuangzi’s coffin is sitting in the house? How can she marry the student after being the wife of the teacher? How can she marry a “nobody” after having married such a great and moral man? How can her relatives not object? How can the wedding be paid for? How can they get married today when the calendar says it is not an auspicious day? Tian Shi has a solution for all of these stumbling blocks and she manservant off to prepare the bridegroom.
These two scenes are taken from a much longer and complex Ming drama which fictionalizes the life of Zhuangzi (fi. 350-300 B.C.E) who together with Laozi was the most influential Taoist philosopher. Zhuangzi is famous for once dreaming that he was a butterfly and, on awaking, wondering if he now was a butterfly dreaming he is Zhuangzi.
The Embroidered Silk Robe:
The Lotus Song
In the meantime, Li Yaxian, who has genuinely fallen for Zheng Yuanho, has kept to her room and defied her madam by refusing to entertain any of her patrons. Recently she has heard that her lover has become a beggar. Quite upset over his misfortunes and alarmed by the severe weather, Yaxian asks her mate Yinzheng to bring in any beggar who might know the whereabouts of her darling. When Zheng Yuanhe, ends up singing outside their brothel, Yinzheng finds him and brings him in. When Yaxian recognizes that it is Zheng, she wraps him in her embroidered silk robe and the two lovers reunite in relief and tearful joy.
Later in the play, Zheng Yuanho transforms himself into an upright and studious scholar, passes the imperial examination with the highest honor, and marries Yaxian.
The Massacre of Thousands of
The Sorrowful Witness
Officially, Emperor Jianwen of the Ming Dynasty is supposed to have died in the war his uncle, Emperor Yongle, waged to usurp him, but many stories portray him as living on in disguise. This play recounts the usurpation by Yongle and his relentless persecution of those who remained loyal to Jianwen. Eventually, a new emperor takes the throne and punishes the official held responsible for inciting Yongle to treat the loyalists so cruelly and Jianwen is able to live out the rest of his life in peace.
is a famous Kunqu artist and a National Class One Performer specializing
in laosheng (old male) roles. He was trained under Zheng
Chuanjian and Ni Chuanyue, two artists of the reknowned “Chuan”
generation of Kunqu performers. He was the winner of the Plum Blossom
Award for Chinese Theatre, the Performing Award, the Showcase Award and
the Commemorative Award at the Shanghai Theatre Festival and the Star
Award at the Magnolia Award for Chinese Theatre in Shanghai. His
repertoire includes excerpts from the traditional repertory such as
Searching the Mountains and Stopping the Cart, Recovering from
Blindness, and Sweeping under the Pine, as well as new
productions such as The Illusory Dream, Cai Wenji, and
Emperor Taizong of the Tang.
Liu Yilong is a famous Kunqu artist and a National Class One Performer. He specializes in chou (clown) role types, and studied with three “Chuan” generation performers: Hua Chuanhao, Wang Chuansong and Zhou Chuancang. He is a versatile actor, playing both civil and military roles, who injects an infectious sense of humor and fun into his performances. He was the winner of the Supporting Performer Award at the Magnolia Art Award for Chinese Theatre in Shanghai, an Honorable Performance Award at the China Kunqu Opera Arts Festival and the Outstanding Performance Award and the Laurel Award at the Shanghai Theatre Festival. He is known for his excellent vocal skills and delivery, and his insightful acting has created many memorable characters, some of the most well-known including Lou the Rat in Fifteen Strings of Cash, Ximen Qing in Pan Jinlian and the old servant in The Butterfly Dream.
Shan Jing studied at the Jingchen Chinese
Opera School, specializing in the Chou (clown) role type. He also
studied at the China Traditional Opera Academy in Beijing, graduating
with Honors in 1997, and staying on to teach at the Academy. He has
participated extensively in various other art forms, including
performances with Japanese artists, particularly a tribute performance
for the prince of Japan in 1997. He performed the role tutor Chen in the
Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
Wen Yuhang studied at the Beijing
Traditional Opera School for six years with some of the most famous
actors and teachers at the school, specializing in the xiaosheng
(young scholar) role type. He was a principal actor with the Northern
Kunju Company. He has performed throughout China, Taiwan and other
countries and has received awards in the “best performer” category in
Chinese Drama competitions. In 1999, he was the leading actor,
portraying Liu Mengmei, in the Lincoln Center production of The Peony
Pavilion, He currently lives in New York.
Huang Shirong is a graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Drama School.
Mr. Huang served as the conductor of the Shanghai Beijing Opera Troupe
for over thirty years. Several of the productions he conducted as master
drummer won national awards in China. He has performed in the U.S.S.R.,
Japan, and Hong Kong. Mr. Huang was a member of the orchestra for the
Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
Huang Shirong is a graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Drama School. Mr. Huang served as the conductor of the Shanghai Beijing Opera Troupe for over thirty years. Several of the productions he conducted as master drummer won national awards in China. He has performed in the U.S.S.R., Japan, and Hong Kong. Mr. Huang was a member of the orchestra for the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
Wang Linsong is a master of several popular string instruments. He was a resident
musician and taught San-hsian in Shanghai Yueju Company.
Mr. Wang is a member
of Ensemble of the Peony Pavilion, which performed at the 1999 Lincoln
Center Festival and later in Australia, France, and Italy.
Quo Jingqiang is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied erhu with Wei Zhong-Le, Lu Xiu-Tong and Chen Jun-Ying and has been a member of the Shanghai Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic and the Shanghai Traditional Chinese Music Orchestra. His tours in Japan and Singapore have won him wide acclaim. He is erhu soloist and Conductor for the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.