Chinese & English Subtitled
Length: About 180 minutes
Kunqu is a 600-year-old Chinese Opera that uniquely blends poetic eloquence, musical refinement and dramatics. Over the course of the centuries, Kunqu’s elegant costumes, beautiful music along with its well written plots have captured the hearts of countless audiences all over the world. Recently, Kunqu was designated by UNESCO as “A Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
The New Edition Jade Hairpin, adapted by PAI Xianyong, is composed of selected scenes from the Ming Dynasty drama of the same title by GAO Lian (1527-1609). It is a love story with a happy ending. PAN, a young scholar came across and fell in love with CHEN, a Taoist nun came of a wealthy family but sought shelter in the convent. The love between the two was against the rigor discipline of the convent. However, their hearts and feelings found a perfect response…
Scene I. Seeking Refuge at the Temple
During the Southern Song dynasty, a young woman of aristocratic birth is separated from her family in the war. She is brought to the Temple of Chastity where she takes vows of celibacy and receives the religious name of Miaochang. Meanwhile the young scholar PAN Bizheng, having failed the civil examination, also arrives to seek shelter.
Scene II. Repartee of the Zithers
On a moonlit night, Miaochang plays the zither in the temple pavilion. Her music attracts Bizheng who comes near and admires her playing. She invites him to play and they reveal their admiration to each other through the zither songs.
Scene III. Visiting the Sick
Bizheng is ill with lovesickness. His aunt the abbess, accompanied by Miaochang, comes to inquire after his health. Bizheng and Miaochang cannot reveal their real emotion, but to exchange glances and gestures. After Bizheng is aware of Miaochang’s affection, he recovers immediately.
Scene IV. Stealing the Poem
Alone in her nun’s quarters, Miaochang vents her loneliness and passion by writing a poem, then falls asleep at her writing table. Bizheng quietly steals her poem. Miaochang is awakened and finds out she cannot hide her attraction for him anymore, she shyly joins him in an oath of love.
Scene V. Forced to the Examination
The abbess discovers their secret love affair, and decides to end the potential scandal by ordering Bizheng to leave immediately to retake the civil examination, even forbidding him to say farewell to Miaochang.
Scene VI. The Lovers’ Farewell
Miaochang discovers that her lover has been forced to leave. She rushes to the riverbank and catchs up with Bizheng in a boat. They declare their love and bid each other a tearful farewell. Miaochang exchanges her jade hairpin for his jade fan pendant as tokens of troth. Miaochang stays behind to wait for his return and Bizheng promises to return to marry her.