"Romance of the West Chamber"
Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
September 29, 2011
by George Jackson
copyright 2011 by George Jackson
A romantic comedy of remarkable charm is what I saw and heard. Each performer on the stage of a Chinese opera must posses movement skills as well as voice and character. These the cast unquestionably had. Quite accessible to the Western ear compared to the more familiar, shriller Peking operas, "Romance" is an example of the Kunqu style which seems not as grandiose yet isn't a whit less refined. I can't relate much else about this style in general, other than that it is ancient, because the Kennedy Center's printed program proved to be uninformative, referring its readers to beikun.com - a website in Chinese. Alternate sources tell more but not all one wants to know about Kunqu opera. Perhaps, though, the 140 minutes of highly civilized entertainment "Romance" provides and the afterthoughts it prompts about human behavior ought to suffice.