Performing arts

Xi'an Yisu Society

Updated: Aug 21, 2017 Print
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As a famous Qinqiang Opera performing troupe, the Xi'an Yisu Society is widely acknowledged as one of the three major ancient theaters of the world.

Established on July 1, 1912, Xi'an Yisu Society was founded by Li Tongxuan and Sun Renyu, as well as 160 other scholars. It is also the first group to engage both the education and performance art of a local opera. The objective of the society is to "assist in social education, enlighten people and transform social traditions". The Yisu Society has successfully combined cultural education, opera training and performances, producing a great number of famous opera talents, as well as high-quality repertoires. It has played an exemplary role in improving an art form and greatly influencing the development of opera.

Generations of playwrights at the society have created or adopted more than 500 scripts since the troupe's establishment; among them are "San Di Xue" and "Lu Siniang", which have become regular repertoires of Qinqiang Opera. The society has also trained nearly 1,000 opera professionals in 15 terms and its graduates have become the backbone of a number of Qinqiang Opera troupes that are widely disseminated in China's northwestern region.

The famous Chinese writer Luxun, who was obsessed with the art form, once traveled to Northwest China's Xi'an city in 1920 to give lectures. Learning about the Xi'an Yisu Society, Luxun donated all of the money he had earned from his lectures to the troupe and honored them with the four characters "gu diao xin tan" ("Unique Interpretation of the Ancient Melody"), which the society had adopted as its motto.

The society has altogether 25 repertoires, among them san di xue and huo yan ju have been made into films. Its Xi'an Incident was performed in Beijing, setting an example of depicting the revolutionary activity in the form of opera. It has won the first prize at the national drama and opera performance. Xi'an Incident was also performed in Japan and the South Korea.

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