Peking Opera classics get modern touch

Updated: May 16, 2023 By Xu Fan China Daily Print
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A still of Cai Wenji Returns to Her Homeland.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Although most Peking Opera tales tell stories of royalty and high-ranking officials, The You Sisters of the Red Chamber, created by the late master Xun Huisheng in 1932, shifts the focus to two ordinary women and their everyday struggles.

With veteran Peking Opera artist Liu Changyu, 81, serving as the movie's art consultant, the film retells a well-known story from the classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber, written by Cao Xueqin of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), about two beautiful sisters surnamed You who struggle to pursue love but both face tragedy.

Liu, who started to learn Peking Opera at 9 in 1951, says that she has repeatedly studied the classic novel and the movie script in great detail, in order to explore the experiences of women during feudal times.

"Most Peking Opera stories draw upon traditional Chinese culture and reflect the unique values, aesthetics and moral pursuits of the Chinese nation," says Liu. "Through film, we can better pass on the art of Peking Opera and allow more people, including locals in far-flung rural areas and Chinese soldiers guarding the borders, to experience it."


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