Have you ever seen Chinese Opera? I certainly haven’t. Saturday’s performance of The Lute is the perfect chance to fix that! The Confucius Institute is hosting the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater for this unique opportunity in the Michigan Theater tomorrow for FREE to anyone who RSVPs. This opera is a classic Chinese story about a man named Cai Bojie who must juggle duty to his country, loyalty to his family, and love for two different women. The story was first written Gao Ming in the 1340s but has been constantly discussed and reworked in Chinese culture since its creation. The story traditionally acts as an allegory for Chinese loyalty, responsibility, sacrifice, and familial duty. However, the version which will presented at this performance was premiered in 2018 in Suzhou and offers commentary on life in China today.
I am excited to see how my concept of opera, based on the German and Italian operas I have listened to or seen, will be expanded by seeing a non-Western version of the artform. I expect to see differences between European and Chinese opera in both the performance aspects and the storyline. Instrumentation, singing, and dance styles will surely be different from those featured in pieces like the Marriage of Figaro. I expect that the storytelling aspect will differ as well. European opera follows the rigid lines of comedy and drama fairly well with the classic pyramid shaped plot. I’m curious to see how The Lute shapes its tale without those rigid expectations to follow, creating a different flow.

Image courtesy of the Confucius Institute.

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