Zhengyici Theater renovated and ready for The Peony Pavilion

Source:Global Times Published: 2009-8-4 22:01:50

The new Zhengyici Theater.

By Wang Chunhong

After four years of renovation, one of Beijing’s most famous theaters, Zhengyici Theater, is preparing to stage the popular Kunqu Opera The Peony Pavilion, marking the 300-year-old building’s return to its original function.

Located at the center of the reconstructed Qianmen area in Beijing, Zhengyici Theater was the first wooden theater in China. After its recent renovation, the ancient building will boast its original design, complete with artistic high ceilings and elegant seating.

The theater was originally a temple in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was converted into an opera theater in 1712. After 1949 it was in danger of being torn down until a local businessman reopened it in 1995.

According to Zhou Huabin, an expert in Beijing ancient theater studies, Zhengyici Theater is not only an ancient stage but also a historical site, once an old guildhall and bank.

The theater is regarded by many as being the birthplace of Peking Opera with opera masters such as Tan Xinpei and Mei Lanfang performing here. Few people are aware that it also witnessed the ups and downs of Kunqu Opera, an art form popular before Peking Opera came into being. With a new look and modern amenities, the theater will now enable everyone to enjoy performances of the ancient art form.

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