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Shaoxing Opera



** Butterfly Lovers

The Chinese lover story -- "Butterfly Lovers", or "Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai" - has been adapted into many kinds of opera genres, and the Yue opera version of the story is among the most successful. The story goes like this:

In order that she may travel to Hangzhou, a city in Zhejiang Province, to study, Zhu Yingtai impersonates and takes on a male identity. There she meets Liang Shanbo and in the course of their studies, they become extremely close friends.

When the time comes for Yingtai to return home, the pair hesitate greatly in departure, entreating each other with much ceremony and suppressed sadness. Yingtai offers 'his' younger sister's hand in marriage and entreats Shanbo to visit 'his' residence soon to raise the issue of marriage with 'his' parents. Shanbo is unaware that Yingtai does not have a younger sister and is in fact offering her own hand in marriage.

A year passes before Shanbo makes his way to the Zhu Residence. Liang Shanbo is overjoyed to realize Yingtai's true identity and that she is in love with him. However, happiness turns into sorrow as the two soon discover that Yingtai has been betrothed to another man. In great sadness, the two lovers meet at the tower and lament their great misfortune. Upon his return to Hangzhou, Shanbo falls ill in his great misery and dies. Yingtai hears of this on her marriage day and flees to his grave. There, folklore has it that her crying so moved the heavens that the clouds themselves shed tears at her grief. Further, the earth beneath her cracked apart, and the ill-fated Yingtai commits suicide by jumping into the opened grave. Miraculously, the pair are transformed into butterflies. Arising into the air, they flutter and dance side by side among the flowers, never to be separated again. 

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