Kunqu Opera (K'un Ch'u; or Kunju; Opera) was founded before Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in Kun Shan, a place near Su-Zhou (Soochow), of today's Zhejiang Province. Thus it has a history much longer than Beijing Opera. It is held in great respect and is regarded as the sister opera of Beijing Opera. Kunqu was shown to the royal or wealthy families only. Its music is much softer and similar from play to play. The dialogue is more poetical and refined. Kunqu is famous for its music and its poetical style of wording rather than other styles. Most of the stories in Kunqu is romantic. It is rare to have any military roles or arobatic actions in a play. Many famous Beijing Opera players were also great performers of Kunqu Opera. Skilling in both operas was a remarkable respect of achievement. It was common for a joint performance in Beijing Opera or Kunqu Opera which involved actors and actresses from both sides.
The dancing and movement of a role is gentle and closely connected with the player's singing. The music instruments used for Kunqu is different from Beijing Opera. Perfectly matching the poetry style of the play, Flute is used as the main accompanying instrument instead of something with strings. Others are bamboo-pipe-composed Sheng, Er Hu and Pi Pa (P'i P'a).First edition: August 1, 1995