A Dream Under the Southern Bough is part of Four Dreams, a series of major works penned by Ming dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu. The most classic renditions of these four scripts were staged as traditional Kun opera, which is one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera.
The scripts of these traditional opera practices are of high literary quality so there is a rhyming and rhythmic element to the recitations in addition to the arias. This works in tandem with the stylised choreography which is graceful and dance-like.
These techniques of acting and singing adhere to four skills and five methods, a codification of training areas that opera performers aspire to master and also a measure for the most well-rounded and thoroughly trained performers.
Peking opera and Kun opera, both widely known to be among the pillars of Chinese cultural arts, differ in their singing styles. While Peking opera music is largely classified by meter, Kun opera music is classified by tunes. The jinghu is the most prominent musical instrument in Peking opera, while the dizi is the leading instrument in the Kun opera ensemble.
Experience the nuances of these art forms first hand by joining Peking opera maestros Tian Ping and Qin Zhan Bao, as well as Singapore dizi musician Ong Jie Ying at a live demonstration of traditional opera techniques.