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Updated: 2014-12-02 10:13:14

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Washing Gauze by Liang Chenyu (1519-1591) drew its materials from a famous historical story: Gou Jian, king of the State of Yue, underwent self-imposed hardships so as to strengthen his resolution to wipe out a national humiliation. The love between Xi Shi and Fan Ji runs through this drama as a unifying thread. Their joys and sorrows, partings and reunions, as described by Liang Chenyu, follow the political twists and turns of Liang's time.

With its constant development,Kunqulater formed quite a few branches, such as Northern Kun, Xiang Kun, Chuan Kun, and Ning Kun. But during the mid-Qing Dynasty(1644-1911),Kunquwas on the decline. It was due to the comprehensive retrieval of those famous repertoires after China's liberation (1949) thatKunqufinally came back to life.

Other representative works ofKunquare: Escorting Jingniang Home (Qianli Song Jingniang), Fifteen Strings of Coins (Shiwu Guan), Love at First Sight (Qiang Tou Ma Shang), and The PeonyPavilion.

 Maestro ofKunqu: Yu Zhenfei

Yu Zhenfei, born in Songjiang (present-dayShanghai), was the best-known maestro ofKunquin the first half of the 20th century. His artistry inKunquis comparable to that of the famedMei LanfanginPeking Opera. Yu Zhenfei himself attributed much of his success to his thorough study and appreciation of classical literature.

Yu began to learnKunquat the age of six from his father who was then aKunquactor. His talented skills in using his throat and incredible appreciation of traditional art made him a maestro ofKunquand of Peking Opera as well. At the age of 14, he made his debut as Xiaosheng. In the 1940s, he went toHong Kongto perform. It was in 1957 that he returned to Shanghai and became the headmaster of the Shanghai Drama School.

Yu was also talented in traditionalChinese paintingandcalligraphy. Audiences were impressed by his elegant and delicate performance.

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