The Beauty of Kunqu 崑曲精華折子戲 【琴挑、問病】【昭君出塞】
March 29 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pmFree
Confucius Institute at University of Maryland
The Shanghai Kunqu Troupe 上海崑劇團
Hoff Theater, at Union Lane entrance, Adele Stamp Student Union Building
University of Maryland, College Park
I. Episodes from Legend of the Jade Hairpin (Yu Zhan Ji )《玉簪記：琴挑、問病 》
II. Lady Zhaojun Bidding Farewell over the Frontier《青塚记：昭君出塞》
I. The Legend of the Jade Hairpin 【琴挑】【問病】
The play was written by Gao Lian around 1570 AD, toward the end of the Ming dynasty. The play consists of 33 acts. It is an example of a genre called chuan qi, meaning “fantastic”, that was popular during the sixteenth century.
The story occurs in the Southern Sung Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD). Pan Bizheng, a young scholar, was engaged to Chen Jiao-Lian by their parents while still in their childhood. Later, the families lost contact while fleeing from foreign invasion. After the death of her father, Chen sought asylum in a Taoist monastery and became a novice there with a Taoist name Meao-Chang. Unbeknownst to her, the Monastery was managed by Pan’s aunt.
Pan Be-Zhen is studying to become a Government official. He traveled to the capital city to take the national civil service examination. Having failed the examination, he was too embarrassed to return home. Instead, he lodged in his Aunt’s Monastery to study for the next examination. There Pan and Chen met for the first time. Without knowledge of their marriage engagement, they fell in love almost at first sight.
In the first scene “Heartstring of a Zither”, Pan encounters Meao-Chang again, he expresses his feeling by playing a love song with a zither. She is moved but nevertheless rejects his pursue for her being a nun. In the second scene “Visiting at the Sick bed”, Pan misses her so much that he becomes ill. Meao-Chang comes with his aunt to comfort him while he was ill. She expresses concern but remains uncommitted.
The play has a happy ending. Eventually, Pan succeeds in the examination and became a Mandarin. Now his father considers him to be eligible for marriage, and reveal to him his childhood engagement. He then realizes that his beloved was actually his official fiancé. Pan and Chen are finally reunited in happy matrimony.
II. Lady Zhaojun Bidding Farewell over the Frontier【昭君出塞】
During the Han Dynasty, the traitor Mao Yanshou provoked the Lords and took Zhaojun by force to be a concubine of a barbaric state. The Han Emperor and ministers feared the northern barbarians and did not dare to refuse, forcing Zhaojun to endure the pain of servitude. She mourned that she may never see the motherland’s beautiful landscape, cursed the traitors while blaming the court for its weakness and inability to protect a helpless woman. The drama is abundant with songs and dances, with beautiful gestures and distinctive features.