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Monday, February 18, 2019
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Opera of Yuan Dynasty

Opera of Yuan Dynasty

It was after many years of development that the Chinese local opera, Yuan Zaju, had been created and collected during Yuan Dynasty (1206 - 1368). It is a relatively mature form of opera, appropriately integrates music, singing, speaking and dancing, performing.

The rise of Yuan Zaju made the golden age of Yuan Dynasty. Within less than one hundred years, there were more than 200 recorded playwrights and more than 700 scripts. Yuan Zaju provided sharp image of the social reality from every aspect and expressed the people's wish of resisting the oppression and pursuit life of comfort.

Guan Hanqing was the greatest and most prolific playwright of Yuan Dynasty, He created over 60 records, of which 18 still exist. Most of them reflected on the misery and struggles of women at the bottom of society and highly praised their wisdom and courage. His representative work The Grievance of Dou's ( also translated as Snow of Midsummer) is the best well-known of the Zaju stradegies. It tells of a kind-hearted young woman named Dou's, who was falsely accused and thrown into prison by the local authorities, and was finally sentenced to death. On the execution ground, she predicted that blood would be splashing and that it would snow in June of hot summer, with great drought lasting for three years. As expected, all of them came true. With an intense tragical impression throughout the play, the author expressed his indignation and sympathy for the weak in society. Guan's plays had great influence on the development of drama of later generations. He is not only the greatest drama composer in China, but also one of the cultural celebrities of the world.

Wang Shifu was another renowned playwright of that period. Throughout his whole life, Wang had written about 14 plays, of which The West Chamber was considered as the masterpiece in the history of Chinese drama. This play, through the love story of Cui Yingying and Zhang Sheng, highly praised their courage in the pursuit of a freedom marriage and in the opposition to feudal ethics, conveying that "All those in love shall be wedded". The main characters such as Cui Yingying, Zhang Sheng and Hong Niang are widely known in China.

Besides that, other well-known playwrights include Ma Zhiyuan, Bai Pu, Zheng Guangzu and Ji Junxiang, etc. Like the Tang poetry and Song Ci poetry, Yuan Zaju also holds a very high position in the history of Chinese literature. Many plays of Yuan Zaju are still performed on the stage nowaday, and some have been recorded into films and TV shows which have exerted a broad influence. In the 18th century, The Orphan of the Zhao Family was introduced to Europe and then converted into a play entitled The Orphan of China, catching the global attention.

Reference data

Speaking refers to the spoken parts of drama, like dialogue, monologue and so on.
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