On September 9th, 2011, the initial performance of the musical Romance of the Western Chamber, produced by Confucius Institute at San Diego State University and the Administration Press and Publication of Hangzhou and Zhejiang Institute of Media was performed at the Dongpo Theater with great success. Dr. Lilly Cheng, Managing Director of Confucius Institute of San Diego State University, playwright and musical adapter of Xi Xiang Ji, Dr. Howard Rubenstein and his wife from America made a special trip to Hangzhou.

Pictured: Caroline Chinn, Judy Rubenstein,
Li-Rong Lilly Cheng, Howard Rubenstein 

“Xixiangji” is one of the most famed Chinese dramatic works written with extreme realism. The melody and the lyrics of the songs are intricate and full of poetry. It tells the story of a secret love affair between Zhang Sheng, a young scholar, and Cui Yingying, the daughter of a chief minister of the Tang court. The two characters first meet in a Buddhist monastery where Zhang Sheng falls in love at first sight. However, he is prevented from expressing his feelings while Yingying is under her mother’s watchful eye. Fortunately, Yingying’s maid, Hong Niang, takes pity on them, and ingeniously arranges to bring them together in a secret union. To the joy of the young lovers, Zhang Sheng proves to be a brilliant scholar, and is appointed a high office position. The story ends on a happy note.

According to the Confucius Institute: “The love story of the original play serves as the compelling theme, presented in English, and combines several traditional Chinese elements including drama, dance, martial arts, calligraphy, and painting, especially during the musical numbers. The musical score boldly combines western and eastern instruments such as violin, the Chinese gong, and the Chinese wooden drum. The performance becomes more dramatic, bold in innovation, and an enthusiastic exploration of classical art.”