A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera
Backstage, Juguan Xu adjusts her headdress before a scene from an opera originally written in the 16th century.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Michael Shain

Like western opera, Kunqu — the oldest type of Chinese opera that dates back to the 16th Century — never saw a tragic story it didn’t like.

That may be the reason why it has survived so long. Filled with death, thwarted romance and secret love, it has all the elements of Puccini or Verdi.

The Kunqu Society of New York, a group of mostly amateur performers who have kept the highly stylized theatrical form alive in America, performed at Flushing Town Hall last weekend to an audience of avid fans and first-timers.

Here is it what it looked like, on stage and behind the scenes.

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