Sixteen years ago when the Yueju Opera classic “A Dream of Red Mansions” debuted at Shanghai Grand Theater, audiences were stunned by the lavish scenes, exquisite costumes and diversified vocal styles.
From June 6 to 8, an updated version of the play will be staged at the same venue. To cater to different tastes, two versions will be presented. A youth version will feature a younger cast while the A-list performance will feature established Yueju Opera stars.
Starting next year, an annual performance will be given during the Chinese New Year holiday at Shanghai Grand Theater, the first of its kind in the country.
The most celebrated Yueju Opera artists in the city will be invited to give new interpretations of the characters and the story.
Set in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the play is about a tragic love story between Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, two rebels from the feudal noble class.
According to Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of Shanghai Grand Theater, the original version featured a cast of more than 300 people, more than 10 grand sets, 400 or so costumes and over 500 props. It was an impressive production in the history of traditional Chinese theater.
The new version will retain the script and vocal styles of the original production although the music, choreography, sets and costumes will be improved.
The A-list version will be staged on June 6 and 8 and, starring Qian Huili and Shan Yangping, who were also the lead performers in the original version.
Young talents Yang Tingna and Li Xudan will take the lead roles in the youth version, to be staged on June 7. More than half of the tickets have been sold.
About one month prior to the June performances, an “A Dream of Red Mansions” exhibition will take place at Shanghai Grand Theater to evoke memories and feelings of nostalgia.
Items to be displayed will include old program notes, ticket stubs and cigarette packs.