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Little Pieces of Yueju Opera

BEIJING, August 15 --The well-known Xiaobaihua Yueju Opera Troupe of Zhejiang Province, will stage four performances from August 31- September 3 at the theatre of the Cultural Palace of Nationalities, in Beijing, according to today's China Daily.

Along with Peking Opera, known as the "national opera, " China boasts more than 360 local operas, 50 of which are extremely popular.

Yueju is a relatively new local opera, popular in the southern regions of the Yangtze River.

It originated about 80 years ago in Shengxian County, East China's Zhejiang Province, and got its name because its birthplace used to be part of the Yue State in ancient times.

Yueju opera is noted for its lyricism and singing. Its tunes are sweet and beautiful and the performance is vivid and full of local flavour.

It is different from Peking Opera in which female roles are often performed by men, while female performers play men's part in Yueju opera.

This time around, Xiaobaihua will bring four performances including two traditional pieces, a new play and a programme with highlights representing some of the major schools of Yueju opera.

Based on the drama written by Chen Duansheng (1751-1796), the famous woman playwright of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 ), "Meng Lijun" remains one of the most popular pieces of the Yueju opera. It tells the legendary story about a talented woman named Meng Lijun.

Meng, the daughter of a high official of the imperial court, is in love with a young man named Huang Pu. But another official's son surnamed Liu also wants to marry her. Turned down by Meng, Liu becomes so ashamed and angry that he frames Meng's father.

Determined to right the wrong committed against her father, Meng disguises herself as a young man in order to go and take part in the imperial examination. She passes and beats everyone who has taken the examination£¡ "He" then becomes the prime minister.

The emperor appreciates "his talent" and wants "him" to marry the princess. After realizing Meng is a woman, the emperor himself wants to marry her.

Wise Meng settles everything and finally marries Huang Pu.

Young, but talented actress Chen Ping performs Meng Lijun, which is the representative role of the Wang School, one of the main schools for female roles of the Yueju opera.

She performs well in the show and portrays the female Meng's charm and delicacy, as well as the "male" Meng's witty and free manner, splendidly.

Another traditional piece to be staged is "The Agalloch Eagledwood Fan, " which also features traditional Chinese romance.

A daughter of an eminent family falls in love with a poor intellectual. She gives him an agalloch eagledwood fan to pledge her love.

However, her parents are firmly against the marriage and choose another man for her. She flees her home to avoid the undesirable marriage and finally marries the man she loves, with her uncle's help.

A new play "Blooming Flowers and Full Moon" is a light comedy consisting of accidental mistakes. All the joys and sorrows, partings and reunions are very dramatic.

Yang Xiaoqing, director of the new play, said £º "It is a well-written comedy that is very entertaining. Compared with some traditional pieces, it has more complicated plots and new elements.

"Though local opera such as the Yueju opera is strongly challenged by film, TV, and other forms of entertainment these days, it still attracts regular audiences, and companies are trying every means possible to compete in the fast-changing entertainment world, " Yang added.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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