Scenes from The Butterfly's Dream
“A Marriage Proposal and its Response”
【蝴蝶夢: 說親、回話】

Friday, May 5, 2006, 7:30 pm
Mendelssohn Hall, University of Michigan
911 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI

This program is jointly sponsored by the “Musiking Late Ming China Conference” of the University of Michigan and the Wintergreen Kunqu Society. 

Cast Musicians Synopsis

Meet the Artists

Production Staff  


Madame Tian: Liang Guyin  梁谷音


Lui Yilong     劉異龍


Kunqu Flute (Dizi):

Huang Chenglin 黃承林
Drum and Clappers: Huang Shirong   黃世榮
San Xian/Small Gong:: Wang Linsong    王林松
Er Hu: Guo Jingqiang      郭景強
Zhong Hu: Xia Wenjie        夏文傑

Production Staff

Producer: Tong-Ching Chang
Co-producer: Charles Wilson
Program Manager: Wen Yuhang
Make-up and Costumes: Yang Guiying
Surtitles: Wen Yuhang
Tong-Ching Chang
Video Camera: Charles Wilson

* Thanks to New York Kunqu Society for providing English translation of the librettos.


The Butterfly’s Dream is adapted from the story of "Zhuang Zi Tests His Wife’s Loyalty", which takes place at around 370 B.C.  Zhoung Zhou, who is practicing the “Dao” (the “Way to the Truth”), is away from home often and his virtuous wife, Nee Tian, has endured ten years of reclusive life at home while he travels in search of knowledge and wisdom. Though supportive of her husband's pursuit of Taoism, the loneliness has made Tian quite unhappy.

One day, on his way home, Zhoung sees a woman fanning the dirt of a new grave to help it dry more quickly. When asked why, the woman tells Zhoung that she has promised her deceased husband that she would not remarry until after the dirt of his graveyard has dried. Zhoung dries the dirt for the woman with his magic power, but the woman’s story makes Zhoung pessimistic about the ways of the world and his marriage. He decides to put his wife's heart to the test. Upon returning home, Zhoung pretends to fall ill and die, whereupon he transforms his spirit into a handsome young prince who reappears to seduce Tian.

In the first scene, Tian has become very infatuated with the young man. She decides to approach the prince's old servant, who is in fact transformed from a butterfly, to act as matchmaker for a marriage between her and his master. In the second scene, the old butterfly brings her good news that the prince has accepted her marriage proposal. The scene ends with a cheery Tian eagerly preparing for her wedding.

Meet the Artists

Liang Guyin is a National Class One performer and a graduate of the Shanghai City Chinese Xiqu School, specializes in the Dan (female) role type and was trained in the style of Zhang Chuanfang and Shen Chuanzhi. She was a recipient of the 3rd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the Star Award at the 1st and 5th Bai Yulan Performing Arts Award for Shanghai Theatre and the Baogang Beaux Arts Award for Performance. She is currently a member of the Chinese Dramatists’ Association and an exco member of the Shanghai Dramatists’ Association.

Liu Yilong is a National Class One performer. He was among the first class of Kunqu actors trained at the Shanghai City Chinese Xiqu School in 1961. He specializes in Chou (comic) and Fu (sly and villainously comic) role types. As a student of the "Chuan" generation of Kunqu performers: Hua Chuanhao, Wang Chuansong and Zhou Chuancang, Liu is a remarkable exponent of the 'comedian art' in Kunqu. He was the winner of the Outstanding Performance Award at the Shanghai Young Performers' Showcase, both the Outstanding Performance Award and the Laurel Award at the Shanghai Theatre Festival, the Best Supporting Role Award at the White Magnolia Awards for Shanghai Theatre, and an Honorable Award for Performance at the China Kunqu Opera Arts Festival. Liu is currently a member of the Chinese Dramatists’ Association and an exco member of the Art of Laughter Society of Shanghai.

Huang Chenglin is proficient not only in all major wen-chen (wind and string) instruments but also several wu-chen (percussion) instruments. Mr. Huang is a popular musician in both Kunqu Theater and Beijing Opera. As a member of  Chinese traditional music orchestra of The Peony Pavilion at the Lincoln Center's 1999 Festival in New York, he has toured  to Australia, France, and Italy.

Huang Shirong is a graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Drama School. Mr. Huang served as the conductor of the Shanghai Beijing Opera Troupe for over 30 years. Several of the productions he conducted as lead drummer won national awards in China. 

Wang Linsong is a master of several popular string instruments. He was a resident musician and taught San-hsian in Shanghai Yueju Company.  Mr. Wang  is a member of Ensemble of the Peony Pavilion, which performed at the 1999 Lincoln Center Festival and later in Australia, France, and Italy.

Guo Jingqiang is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied erhu with Wei Zhong-Le, Lu Xiu-Tong and Chen Jun-Ying and has been a member of the Shanghai Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic and the Shanghai Traditional Chinese Music Orchestra. His tours in Japan and Singapore have won him wide acclaim. He is erhu soloist and Conductor for the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.

Xia Wenjie graduated from the school of the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra. He was the banhu soloist at the Shanghai Opera House and also the principal player of erhu, zhonghu, and gaohu in the orchestra. Mr. Xia has been highly praised of his virtuosity and artistry. While in China, he was involved in operatic production and has composed several works. In addition, he has won several prizes in solo competitions. Mr. Xia is also affiliated with the Chinese Association of Musicians.