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April 23, 2011

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Two shows for ancient water town

ZHUJIAJIAO, known as "The Venice of Shanghai," has a history of more than 1,700 years. But two weekly cultural performances by Oscar-winning musician Tan Dun and "Kunqu Prince" Zhang Jun are expected to endow the ancient water town with modern connotations and a new lasting charm.

Entitled "Night of Zhujiajiao," the new performing season of the "architectural" music show "Water Heavens" and the real garden version of the Kunqu Opera classic "Peony Pavilion" will respectively kick off today and next Saturday.

Different from many stage productions, "Water Heavens" is performed on a contemporary Bauhaus-style water-permeated stage with a centuries-old Chinese building as a backdrop.

Tan, inspired by the scenery of the water town and the chanting Buddhist temple in the neighborhood includes a variety of musical genres in the show. He brings together a string quartet, percussionists and ballad singers to create a unique and diversified musical program.

"I want to present a show using architecture as a natural musical instrument," Tan says. "The acoustic floors, walls and even ceiling combine to create a unique organic environment for music."

Tan plans to renovate the building into a sound museum in the near future. In addition to the musical performance, visitors are also offered an interactive experience with the ingeniously designed "singing stairs" which can make the sounds of ancient Chinese chime bells.

Following its successful debut during last year's Shanghai World Expo, the "Peony Pavilion" set on the natural stage of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)-style Kezhi Garden tries to recreate the original setting and atmosphere of the classic play. The show's original 55 acts have been reduced to four. The 80-minute condensed version tells a story of forbidden love, death and resurrection. With a more compact form, it aims to cater to the tastes of a modern audience.

With music by Tan and choreography by famous Chinese dancer Huang Doudou, the play hopes to maintain the elegance and appeal of the play's original style, verse and gestures.

According to Zhang, director, producer and leading actor for this centuries-old Kunqu Opera tale, the real garden version provides the audience with a deeper insight into the age-old art form's sublime beauty.

The audience is limited to about 100 people. Just as it might have been 200 years ago, the show is set in front of a lakeside pavilion, beginning at sunset.

Zhang is considering to take the garden-version "Peony Pavilion" on an overseas tour. And in September a new performance on another Kunqu Opera classic will be staged, according to Zhang.

? "Water Heavens"

Date: every Saturday from today, 7pm

Venue: 3 Caogangtan, Xijing Street, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District

Tickets: 180-1,280 yuan

Tel: 6249-0502, 962-388

? Garden version of "Peony Pavilion"

Date: every Saturday from April 30, 6:15pm

Venue: 119 Xijing Street, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District

Tickets: 180-1,080 yuan

Tel: 6267-7199, 6267-7399


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