The Peony Pavilion;牡丹亭

The Peony Pavilion is a play written by Ming dynasty’s Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), one of the most famous playwrights in Chinese theatre (contemporaneous with Shakespeare). The play is one of Tang's "Four Dreams", and the basic plot is a romance between Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei.

On a fine spring day, Du Liniang, a sixteen-year-old girl, enters the garden of her parents’ house for the very first time. She falls asleep. In her dream, she encounters a young scholar (Liu Mengmei) whom she has never met in her real life. The two fall in love and make love. The next day, Du Liniang secretly goes back to the garden to seek her dream, she is extremely sad because “looking here and there, it is nowhere to be found”. Over the heartache of her dream lover Du Liniang becomes very ill. When she realises that she will not live for much longer, she decides to paint a self-portrait. Before dying, she requests her mother to put the self-portrait under a rock in the garden and begs to be buried there by the peony pavilion under the plum blossom tree where her dream with Liu Mengmei took place.

Three years later, Scholar Liu uses the Plum Blossom Temple that Du Liniang’s father has built for his daughter as temporary accommodation. This temple is where Liniang’s memorial tablet is enshrined. By chance, he happens to pick up Liniang’s self-portrait while strolling around the garden. On returning to his study, he hangs the painting above the headboard of his bed and every night burns incense and pays his respects.

After 3 years in the spirit world, Du Liniang’s ghost roams to the Plum Blossom Temple, where she comes across Liu Mengmei paying his respects to her self-portrait. Liniang is greatly moved and explains her situation to Liu Mengmei. She begs him to dig her coffin up and release her body. Liu Mengmei is passionate for Liniang, so without hesitation he opens the coffin, miraculously resurrecting Du Liniang. After numerous complications, Du Liniang, accompanied by Liu Mengmei, reunites with her parents.

Both clips are taken from the original scene ten, ‘The Interrupted Dream. The translation is from Cyril Birch’s, in which Du Liniang is named Bridal. On top of the song, the title of the ‘melodic model’ in the square brackets is added. After watching the two clips, viewers will understand more about kunju’s feature that “every word in an aria is accompanied by dance”.

The first clip:

BRIDAL:

[To the tune of Bubujiao]

The spring a rippling thread

of gossamer gleaming sinuous in the sun

borne idly across the court.

Pausing to straighten

the flower heads of hair ornaments,

perplexed to find that my mirror

stealing its half-glance at my hair

has thrown these “gleaming clouds”

into alarmed disarray.

(She takes a few steps)

Walking here in my chamber

how should I dare let others see my form!

FRAGRANCE:

How beautifully you are dressed and adorned today!

BRIDAL

[To the tune of Zuifugui]

See now how vivid shows my madder skirt,

how brilliant gleam these combs all set with gems

-you see it has been

always in my nature to love fine things.

The Second Clip

BRIDAL:

Without visiting this garden, how could I ever have realized this splendor of spring!

[To the tune of Zaoluopao]

See how deepest purple, brightest scarlet

open their beauty only to dry well crumbling.

“Bright the morn, lovely the scene,”

listless and lost the heart

-where is the garden “gay with joyous cries”?

My mother and father have never spoken of any such exquisite spot at this.

BRIDAL, FRAGRANCE:

Streaking the dawn, close-curled at dusk,

rosy clouds frame emerald pavilion;

fine threads of rain, petals borne on breeze,

gilded pleasure boat in waves of mist:

glories of spring but little treasured

by screen-secluded maid.

 《牡丹亭》是明代剧作家汤显祖(1550-1616)的代表作,与《紫钗记》、《南柯记》和《邯郸记》并称为“临川四梦”。该剧的中心是杜丽娘和柳梦梅的爱情故事。

剧中描写了杜丽娘(一个16岁的官宦人家的女儿)在丫环春香的引领之下,来到了自己从未进入过的家中的后花园,那里姹紫嫣红。她在花园中睡着,与一名年轻书生在梦中男欢女爱,醒后终日寻梦不得,抑郁而终。杜丽娘临终前要求母亲将她的画像放在花园的太湖石下面,并将自己埋葬在花园里。三年之后,岭南书生柳梦梅赴京赶考,寄宿在杜丽娘父亲为纪念其女修建的梅花庵中,此后柳梦梅发现杜丽娘的画像,回到书房后,便把那幅春容挂在床头前,夜夜烧香拜唤。杜丽娘鬼魂游到梅花庵,恰遇柳生正在对着自己的真容拜唤。杜丽娘非常感动,与柳梦梅欢会。丽娘向柳生道出实情,求柳生挖坟开棺。柳梦梅钟情,毅然掘坟开棺,使杜丽娘还魂。后又经过无数曲折,杜丽娘携柳梦梅终于与父母大团圆。

此地的两个片断都来自原作第十出“惊梦”。下面两段唱词中用【】标出的即“曲牌”的名称。通过欣赏片断,将对于昆剧“无歌不舞”的特点有充分认识。

第一段: 

【步步娇】   

袅晴丝吹来闲庭院

  摇漾春如线。

  停半晌整花钿

  没揣菱花偷人半面

  迤逗的彩云偏。

〔行介〕步香闺怎便把全身现。

〔贴〕今日穿插的好。

【醉扶归】   

〔旦〕

你道翠生生出落的裙衫儿茜

艳晶晶花簪八宝钿。

可知我常一生儿爱好是天然。

第二段:

〔旦〕 不到园林,怎知春色如许!

【皂罗袍】   

原来姹紫嫣红开遍,   

似这般都付与断井颓垣。   

良辰美景奈何天   

赏心乐事谁家院?   

朝飞暮卷,云霞翠轩   

雨丝风片,烟波画船。   

锦屏人忒看的这韶光溅!  

Performances

Audience Type
The Peony Pavilion;牡丹亭: , 2007

Videos