Kunqu Workshop at Georgetown University

  • Introduction to Kunqu Theater Tong-Ching Chang

  • "Pursuing the Dream" from The Peony Pavilion (Mudan Ting)
     featuring Zhang Jiqing

  • Kunqu Performance Techniques Yao Jikun

Faculty Coordinator: Philip Kafalas 
Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Culture
Office: 306D ICC. Phone: 202 687 6223
Email: kafalasp@gunet.georgetown.edu


Musical Ensemble

Drum and Clappers: Li Xiaoping

Kunqu Flute:

Zhou Ming
San-hsian/Zither: Wang Linsong
Cymbals/Ruan/Souna: Huang Chenlin

Production Staff

Producer: Tong-Ching Chang
Stage Manager: Shou Wenqiang
Backstage Manager: Shen Xiaoming
Dresser: Yan Xiaoling
Make-up: Yang Kueiying
Libretto Translation and  Surtitle Preparation: Tong-Ching Chang
Charles Wilson
Surtitles: Tong-Ching Chang
Anna Wu


"Was there ever a love like the love Du Liniang?" With these words Tang Xiangzu begins one of the most beloved plays in the Kunqu canon and one of the most beautiful love stories of all time.

The play tells the story of a young girl.

In fact, the play is much more. It is sweeping panaorama and biting social critique of Chinese society toward the end of the Ming dynansty. It consists of some 39 episodes, which include Daoist nuns, tutor scholars, warriors 

Program Notes  

The Rotten-Helve Mountain is based on the folk story "Zhu Maichen Divorces his Wife," which takes place during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 221 AD). The author of the Kunqu libretto is unknown, but the play was probably written during the first half of the seventeenth century toward the end of the Ming dynasty or beginning of the Qing dynasty. The literary value of the libretto is not as highly regarded as those of many other Kunqu plays. However, the author appears to have possessed a thorough knowledge of the rules of Chinese Xiqu. The vivid depiction of the interaction of its central characters, Cui Shi and Zhu Maichen, has won the hearts of its audiences everywhere.

Fours acts of the play "Forcing the Divorce," "Regret the Marriage," "The Maddening Dream," and "Water Splashed" have been passed down and are consistently performed today. Tonight’s performance will present the first, third and fourth of these acts.

Meet the Artists

Zhang Jiqing  is one of the premiere performers in Chinese classical theater. A winner of the prestigious Plum Blossom Award, Ms. Zhang is renown for her exceptional vocal technique. She is generally recognized as the "Peony" of Kunqu theatre for her powerful performances of the heroine Du Liniang in The Peony Pavilion. Her portrayal of  Cui Shi, her most famous role, in tonight’s performance of The Rotten-Helve Mountain marks her first appearance in the United States. Ms. Zhang is a member of Kunqu Troupe of Jiangsu.

Yao Jikun is best known for his performances of the old man role, Lao Sheng. Among others, he has received wide acclaim for his performances in The Rotten Helve Mountain and Fifteen Strings of Copper. This performance of Lan Ke Shan will be his first appearance in the United States. Mr. Yao is a member of the Kunqu Troupe of Jiangsu.

Li Xiaoping is the conductor and lead drummer of the orchestra in the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe. He graduated from the Shanghai Chinese Opera Academy majoring the kunqu music. He has received numerous awards for his mastery of Kunqu music, including the official title First-rate Musician from the Chinese government.  In recent years, he has performed in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.


Zhou Ming is a master of the dizi, the Chinese bamboo flute. A graduate of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Academy, he received a BA degree in Dizi from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1989 and is currently completing his MA degree in Career Management in Art and Culture in the Shanghai Jiaotong University.  Mr. Zhou has performed as the lead musician for over twenty-five major Kunqu plays, including the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion in July, 1999. He holds the title First-rate Musician from the official ranking system in China. 

Huang Chenlin 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. 

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.


Pre-performance Lecture Demonstration

Introduction to Chinese Kunqu Theater by Tong-Ching Chang
From 6:00-7:00, Tong-Ching Chang, President of
will provide some background for the 7:30 performance. With members of the orchestra, she will illustrate the relation between the music and the drama on stage. Some of the cast members will illustrate the different role types in Kunqu theatre and some of the important conventions that define those roles.