‘Butterfly Lovers’

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/7 16:43:39

Promotional material for Butterfly Lovers Photo: Courtesy of Zhou Hanxiao

China's newly opened Xiaobaihua Yueju Theater launched a new season featuring classic Yueju operas in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. 

As the second most popular Chinese opera genre next to Peking Opera, Yueju Opera is popular around the country, especially in East China's Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. 

Butterfly Lovers, China's version of Romeo and Juliet, staged by the Xiaobaihua Yueju Opera Troupe kicked off the season on Thursday. 

The theater, designed by Chinese architect Li Zuyuan, resembles a giant butterfly resting in the neighboring West Lake, the city's iconic tourist spot, and is decorated with 1,000 sliver butterfly logos on the fa?ade. 

Due to the influence of the famous Butterfly Lovers story, butterflies have long been a symbol for Yueju Opera, which is primarily performed by women. Yueju Opera has a number of love stories in its repertoire and focuses less on acrobatics than other forms of Chinese opera.   

"The butterflies in the story are a perfect symbol. A caterpillar must pass through the cocoon stage to become a butterfly. Our hopes for the theater are the same," Li told qianlong.com.

In the opera, a young woman, Zhu Yingtai, dresses as a man and studies with the talented Liang Shanbo, who doesn't know her real identity. The two fall in love, but Zhu's father objects to their romance. In the end, the two die from heartbreak and become a pair of butterflies. 

For 57-year-old Mao Weitao, the lead actress of the troupe and head of the theater, the opening is an 18-year-old dream come true. 

"Eighteen years after the establishment of our troupe, Yueju Opera finally has its own theater. In the future, we will not only stage Yueju Opera performances, but also host international events to communicate with international opera troupes," she said. 

"Butterflies also remind us of the Butterfly Effect. The theater can make the city and the country more influential through this effect. Yueju Opera is full of possibilities and brings us more room for imagination." 

The season will also feature performances like The Legend of Chunxiang, an adaptation of a Korean folk story; Coriolanus and Du Liniang, a new work based on Shakespeare's Coriolanus and Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu's The Peony Pavilion; and A World of Fickleness.


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