chapter four


Li Dou’s Yangzhou Huafang Lu, which was completed during Qianlong’s reign, says: “The Liang Huai Salt Administration keeps having Huabu and Yabu troupes to prepare for spectacles. Yabu refers to Kunshan tune, Huabu is an umbrella concept including Peking tune, Qin tune, Geyang tune, Bangzi tune, Luoluo tune and Erhuang tune, which can be also called Luantan. (scroll 5) Among so many types of operas, only Kunqu opera was called “Yabu”, the rest were called “Huabu” or “Luantan”, which shows that for hundred years, Kunqu opera was considerably outperforming other operas. Thanks to the long-term and extensive involvement of many scholars and gentries and proactive support from the rich, Kunqu opera enjoyed a very high political, economic and cultural status, to which no other opera could be close. But in order to survive, different tunes of Huabu never stopped making strives. As early as the reign of Wanli of Ming Dynasty, when Kunqu opera was prevailing, opera critic Wang Jide recorded: “For decades, there emerged Geyang, Yiwu, Qingyang, Huizhou, and Leping tunes. Currently, Shitai and Taipig Li Yuan can be found everywhere, Suzhou tune is dwarfed by other tunes” (Qulu). In fact, it is often the case that the competition was going on not only bwteen “Hua” and “Ya”, but also among tunes of Huabu so as to attract more audience. So “Hua” and “Ya” were first coined during Qianlong’s reign, yet what historyians call as “the competition between Hua and Ya” begun earlier.

But the competition between Hua and Ya during Qianlong’s reign was different. Kunshan tune had always been expanding its coverage, but this period was different because Huabu thrived while Yabu declined which symbolized a critical turning point in Chinese opera history.

During the middle to late reign of Qianlong, different tunes had strong presence so Huabu gained momentum. Geyang tune, together with Kunshan tune, was also one of the major 4 tunes of southern opera, it spread to Beijing during Wanli’s reign of Ming Dynasty, Yuxi Palace then became the school for Waixi (southern operas). At that time Kunshan tune and Geyang tune enjoyed same status. In the early years of Qing Dynasty, Geyang tune had been localized in Beijing. It was then called “Gao tune” or “Peking tune”, which was quite popular in Beijing during middle years of Qianlong’s reign. Its heyday witnessed the six famous troupes’ performances throughout the city. Later on Qin tune spread to Beijing, “Wei Changsheng came to Beijing in the 39th year (a year of Jiawu) of Qianlong’s reign, his play Kunlou(Rolling Tower) arouse ecstasy across the country. (scroll 4 of Rixia Kanhua Ji by Taoist Xiaotiedi). The Qin tune sung by Wei was the west Qin tune (Qin stands for Qin dynasty and stringed Chinese instruments Qin) where “Huqin was the main instrument with Yueqin as a supplementary instrument. This Qin tune was good at expressing emotions, which was different from that with Bangzi as clappers, thus it became famous, making Peking tune plays put aside. The halls for singing performance were crowed with audience while the big six troupes were neglected by people and even dismissed” (prelude to Yong Wei San (stage name of Wei Changsheng) (Wei San Chant) from scroll 3 of Yannan Xiaopu by Wu Changyuan). “Therefore, Peking tune begun to assimilate Qin tune, and the two tunes could not be distinguished from each other” (scroll 5 of Yangzhou Huafang Lu by Li Dou) After Wei Changsheng returned to Sichuan, there appeared “Chen Wang Er Liu” (Chen Yinguan from Yiqin troupe and Wang Guiguan, Liu Erguan and Liu Fengguan from Cuiqing troupe),who were called “Simei (four beauties)”. They were the leads of Huabu and were well-known in Beijing. Chen Yinguan was a student of Wei Changsheng, “and considered to outperform his teacher”; while Liu Fengguan was “considered to be as good as Wei Wanqing (Changsheng) in Beijing. (prelude to Yong Chen and Liu Erren (Chen and Liu Chant) from scroll 3 of Yannan Xiaopu by Wu Changyuan). In the 55th year of Qianlong’s reign, in order to celebrate the birthday of Gaozong (Qianlong), “Anqing Huabu” was called up from Yangzhou to Beijing. Anqing Huabu was a bu under “Hui troupes”. Hui troupes’ performers mainly came from Anhui. They could sing multiple tunes including Erhuang, Kunshan, Bangzi and Luoluo. They were active in areas along Anhui, Jiangxi, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. After Anqing huabu came to Beijing, “Anqing Huabu, Peking tune and Qin tune were collectively called “Sanqing” troupe” (scroll 5 of Yangzhou Huafang Lu). The chief of Sanqing troupe, Gao Langting, a prestigious elder singing Erhuang tune, …whose performance vividly captured females’ facial expressions, whether he was lost in deep thoughts or scolding, his performance made the audience forget that he was cross-dressed. … Yannan Xiaopu regards Wanqing (Wei Changsheng) as the best cross-dresser, the same can goes for Langting.” Actually long before that, Erhuan tune had been popular in Beijing. In the 49th year of Qianlong’s reign, Tan Cui wrote a poem saying, “string instruments are played with clappers. Xiqu and Erhuang tune are sung together. Every bistro and Qi Ting (Flag-flown restaurants) I have been, I find no one willing for Kun tune” (Za Yin). However, after Sanqing troupe went to Beijing, Hui troupes including Sixi, Qixiu, Nicui, Hechun and Chuntai troupes soon followed suit. The momentum was stronger than ever. From the middle to late reign of Qianlong to the early reign of Jiaqing, Huabu in Beijing was still gaining momentum. Taoist Xiaodiedi’s own preface to Rixia Kanhua Ji presents a brilliant summary, “in the past, the big six troupes were equals with many famous performers, thus being most popular. Later on, since Chuan School outshined other schools, they  wore Qiao shoes stepping and dancing and exquisite makeup, which dazzled the audience and became a new trend. Since then, Huibu was also revitalized and improved while inheriting from predecesors and audience swarmed into theaters. Five different tunes were unified into one tune and the style of costumes and fans used for dancing and singing were different from that of 30 years ago.”

As said above, in Yanzhou, the flourishment of Kun tune was as good as that of Suzhou. The popularity of Huabu was also as good as that in Beijing. The Liang Huai Salt Administration, in order to welcome the arrival of the emperor, patronized both Yabu and Huabu troupes, salt merchant Jiang Heting not only patronized Deyin(Virtuous sounds) troupe, one of the big seven inner Jiang troupes, but also “recruited Huabu performers and set up Chuntai troupe” (scroll 5 of Yangzhou Huafang Lu). For civilians, “Yangzhou’s Huabu troupes mainly consisted of local performers, which could be called local Luanta, … Later on Jurong had newcomers of Bangzi tune, Anqing had newcomers of Erhuang tune, Geyang had newcomers of Gao tune, Huguang had newcomers Luoluo tune; and these troupes began touring around villages outside the city and then returned to downtown in summer. They were called Ganhuo troupe” (Ibd.). In around the 52th year of Qianlong’s reign, Wei Shangsheng “went to Jiang Heting’s troupe in Yangzhou when he was 40, his was rewarded with thousand pieces of gold for performing one scene” (Ibd.). He was so influential that many Yangzhou’s actors “started to imitate him and this trend also spread to villages outside the city” (Huabu Nongtan (Peasant Chats on Popular Theater) by Jiao Xun). Apart from Huabu performers, Hun tune performers also attracted to learn performing techniques from him. Jiao Xun Chanted for Wei San in his poem, “The audience were intoxicated by his singing, and money alone could not persuade him to perform.” Chuntai troupe was the most active Huabu troupe in Yangzhou, “it recruited famous Dan across the country including Yang Baguan from Suzhou and Hao Tianxiu from Anqing. Yang and Hao absorbed the best part from Changsheng’s Qin tune and integrated it with the best part of Peking tune in plays including Kunlou, Bao Haizi, Mai Bobo and Song Zhentou. Therefore Chuntai troupe successfully combined Peking and Qin tunes” (scroll 5 of Yangzhou Huafang Lu). Li Dou in his book also mentioned other famous Huabu performers including Xiong Feizi, “whose singing vividly conveyed emotions of unmarried woman in Dafu Xiaoqi Damen Chicu”, Fan Da, “who was good at using eyes to express emotions. In performing Si Fan, he first sung Kun tune, and then followed by Bangzi, Luoluo, Geyang, Erhuang tunes. He could sing all tunes so he was called Xiyao”, Xi Shouzi, who played the role of a Huagu (flower drum) woman with mellifluous but sad singing, making the audience indulged in it”, Lu Sanguan, “who was good at performing Huagu and proficient in singing Peking and Qin tunes,” … The following depiction in particular attract people’s attention, “Xie Ruiqin from Cuiqing troupe of Beijing was called Xiao Haozi, which was named after his teacher Haozi. He was good at playing the role of Yanpoxi in Shuihu Ji. And every time he performed on stage, the audience would help him to do makeup; even those moguls and wealthy men wearing expensive cloth made of fox fur and silk would be upset by not having their cloth stained by his makeup. Guan Dabao imitated Xie’s performance of Yanpoxi, which indicated the formation of Xie’s School in Yangzhou. (Ibd.) It can be seen that Huabu opera of Beijing and Yangzhou did have exchanges and communication on art. Jiao Xun compared Huabu and Yabu opera and supported Huabu opera, “I remember that when I was young, I have been to village to watch operas with my father. The show of Shuangzhu Tianda (refers to a Kunqu opera Shuangzhu Ji) in the first day did not arouse responses from the audience, while next day the show of Qingfeng Ting (refers to a Huabu play of the same name) made the audience feel angered and then satisfied and the moment Naogu (Nao Drum) stopped, the audience exchanged glances with respectful rather than distaining look. After they returned, they said that they were still immersed in the play. So it is shallow to believe that Huabu is not as good as Kun tune” (Huabu Nongtan)

Be that as it may, Kun tune still held an important position in Beijing where the competition between Hua and Ya was stiffed. Scroll 4 of Yannan Xiaopu by Wu Changyuan just recorded 20 Yabu performers of Beijing. They all played roles of Dan in Kunqu Operas. And the troupes they came from included troupes purely singing Kunqu operas and troupes singing Kun tune, Peking tune and Luantan. Yannan Xiaopu recorded 5 or 6 troupes while Xiaohan Xinyong recored more than 10. Yet the statistics was drawn from limited extant data, the real number should be more. Hui troupes came to Beijing in succession. Sixi troupe was a kun tune troupe purely singing “Quzi (songs)”. “The banquet of the association was held during the day. The sounds of instruments aroused ecstasy. When the troupe launched a new play of Taohua Shan, the audience was talking all about Sixi troupe” (Beiping Li Yuan Zhichici Huibian by Zhang Cixi), thus it can be seen that Kun tone still had certain marketplace.

The reason why Huabu gained momentum is that Huabu was easy to appreciate and much closer to civilian’s daily life while Kun tune “which had southern and northern tunes now is not a hit anymore; the vulgar in particular do not want to watch its performance” (Baixi Zhuzhici—Wuyin by Li Shengzhen). Jiao Xun presented a more detailed analysis, “Because Wuyin is complicated, though the songs are well-rhymed, the audience who haven’t read scripts would feel at a loss. A dozen play scripts including Pipa (flute), Sha Gou (killing dogs), Handan Meng (Handan dream) and Yipengxue are about obscenity while Xilou , Hongli do not deserving watching. Huabu, derived from Yuanju plays, are more about fidelity, piety, moral integrity and righteousness, so it can touch people’s heart. The lyrics are simple enough even women and children can understand them. The music is so passionate that it arouses people’s courage.” “During the break between farming, farmers seat under the bean arbor in a shaded area and what they talk most are stories from Huabu performances” (Huabu Nongtan). It is also attributable to straightforward northern dialects or forthright personality of northern people in Beijing. “Ya (Elegant) Dan is not desirable for northern people” (Yannan Xiaopu--Liyan by Wu Changyuan).

In the 42nd year of Qianlong’s reign, Yi Lina, the imperial censor on salt administrations, obeyed the imperial order to set up Ciqu(opera script) Bureau in Yangzhou for revising play scripts. The scripts were mainly from Suzhou Textile Ministry. All together 1104 plays were revised and proofread (some plays were in other tunes). Members of this project include Huang Wenyang, Lin Yankan and Cheng Mei. It took one year for them to complete the project. Later on, based on some Chuanqi plays he had read, Huang Wenyang composed 20 scrolls of Quhai Zongmu.

After the establishment of the bureau for revising scripts, The Qing court did not take any further actions. But since Qinglong’s reign, the creation of Chuanqi has been declining, and consequently new Chuanqi plays were hard to find.

During this period, famous playwrights include Huang Zhijun from Songjiang, Tang Ying (host a official post in Jiangnan) from Shenyan, Gui Fu from Qufu, Shen Qifeng from Wuxian, Shiyan from Suzhou, Xu Xi and Yuan Dong from Wujiang, Qian Weiqiao from Wujin and Yang Chaoguan from Wuxi. During the reign of Jiaqing’s reign, famous playwrights include Jiang Shiquan from Qianshan, Jiangxi, Jin Zhaoyan from Quanjiao, Zhong Zhenkui from Taizhou, Lidou from Zhengyi, Shi Yunyu from Wuxian and Tang Yifen from Wujin. Tang Ying wrote 17 Zaju plays and Chuanqi operas, collectively called Gubaitang Chuanqi, which contains 10 plays adapted from local plays. Jiang Shiquan was famous for writing poems. He, Yuan Mei and Zhao Yi were collectively called “Sandajia(three masters)”. Jiang were good at composing songs. He wrote moret than 30 plays including extant 6 Zaju plays and 6 Chuanqi operas, 4 Yingchen operas and 9 plays are included in Cangyuan Jiubuqu (9 types of play of Cangyuan). When he lived in Yanzhou, his Zaju play Sixianqiu and Qiting Ji by Jin Zhaoyan from Anhui were famous. Zhong Zhenkui’s adaption of Hongloumeng (Dream of the red chamber) came out earlier than other adaptions and had good reputation in the operatic circle. Scenes including Zanghua, Shanxiao, Tingyu and Buqiu were perfomed by Kunqu troupes in different localities. Li Dou’s Suixing Ji was a very popular Dengcai Xi (Colored lantern opera). Nevertheless, though there were some good Chuanqi creations, but the number and quality could not be as good as before.

During Qianlong and Jiaqing period in Qing Dynasty, there were few new Kuqun operas appearing on the stages, while zhezixi (opera highlights) gained popularity. As early as in the middle of Ming Dynasty, several kunqu opera family troupes started to perform zhezixi in the halls. For example, during Wanli in the Ming Dynasty, when performing the well-known ten complete plays, Qiandai kunqu opera family troupe from Changshu City in Jiangsu Province would always pick one or two, three or four sections from the whole play (according to Bimeng by Wuzi). At that time, due to limited human, material and entertainment resources, zhezixi was a better option and thus performed by family troupes. Until the end of Ming Dynasty, although complete works reigned supreme, zhezixi attracted great attention of the general public on the strength of troupes’ splendid performances. During Chongzhen period in Ming Dynasty, printed editions called Zuiyiqing (labelled as popular kunqu opera) became prevalent which included 116 south operas, zaju (poetic dramas) and legendary zhezixi. During the past 200 years, episodes and guanmu (structures of scene) from large amounts of famous operas were well-known even to women and children. As a result, although being an incomplete play, zhezixi has been quite understandable to the ordinary people, gaining recognition of the audience. In Qing Dynasty, zhezixi evolved into a fashion. When making an inspection trip in the southern city of Suzhou, Emperor Xuanye (Kangxi) watched 20 zhezixi. During the Qianlong and Jiaqing period, as huabu (operas excluding kunqu) thrived and started to compete with kunqu operas which didn’t get sufficient new plays that were qualified to be performed on the stage, professional performers from kunqu troupes had to created new elements out of the old kunqu operas, which promoted the zhezixi to a climax. A book named Zhuibaiqiu wrote in the 39th year of Qianlong collected 430 then fashionable danzhe (section of zhezixi) of kun tune (and 59 zhezixi of other tunes), showing the general situation of kunqu performance at that time. Almost all the later generations of troupes select kunqu operas to perform within the scope of this book.

By means of repeated improvements and adjustments of performers, zhezixi climbed to a new level in terms of main idea, plot structure and character portrayal. Particularly, performance arts comprehensively emphasized Wugongsifa (singing, dialogue, acting, playing and dancing, and hand, eye, body, moving) rather than the traditional duqu (writing words for operas), portraying characters in a subtle manner in an effort to vividly describe the personage. Breaking away from the tradition concentrating on sheng (male characters) and dan (female characters), many zhezixi allowed other characters to play a larger role in the plays, which helped forming a complete performance system involving all characters. The character design and performance process of kunqu operas basically finalized during Qianlong period. Yangzhouhuafanglu completed in the Qianlong period recorded Jinxi, guimendan, zuodan, sancisansha and other new terms, reflecting that kunqu opera had transformed from southern operas with seven characters to kunqu operas with twelve main characters and then to twenty sub-characters. Liyuanyaun (originally called Mingxinjian), which is said to be written by Huang Fanchuo and other kunqu opera performers during Qianlong and Jiaqing period and then supplemented by Yu Weichen, Gong Ruifeng and his other disciples during Daoguang period, summarized practical experience of performance arts. Afterwards, Shenyinjiangulu gathered 66 play scripts with detailed stage directions of kunqu opera and among these plays, several have notes of shenduapu (dancers’ posture). For example, one play named  Jingchaiji·shanglu includes instructions of dances’ posture created by Laoxu Troupe from Yangzhou city and Sun Jiugao from Dahong Troupe who performed as wai (a minor character) during Qianlong period. Shenyinjiangulu more directly reflects the performance essence during Qianlong and Jiaqing period compared with Liyuanyuan.

The keen competition between Huabu and Yabu that started from the Qianlong period quickly posed a threat to kunqu opera during Jiaqing period. In March and May of the 3rd year of Jiaqing period, Suzhou Pear Orchard published imperial decrees twice to prohibit the performance of luantan, bangzi, xiansuo, Qin opera and other plays. During the years between Daoguang and Xianfeng periods (around 1850) when Qing emperors wiped out the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (established by revolutionary farmers during 1851-1864), almost half of regions in China involved in this war were dominated by kunqu operas. In the latter half of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Tianjing (nowadays Nanjing) and Sufu Province (nowadays regions in the southern parts of Jiangsu Province with Suzhou city as the center) were reduced to the battle grounds between Qing Dynasty and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, and thus kunqu operas in above areas were cut off from operas in other places across the nation, devoid of fresh elements and supplements, as a result of which, kunqu operas in these regions became weaker due to wars. After the middle Daoguang period, Daya, Dazhang, Quanfu, Hongfu and other troupes only existed in Suzhou City. In the 10th year of Xianfeng period (in 1860) when Suzhou City fell to the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom army, all troupes fled to different places across China and once stopped their performances. There were only some 100 practitioners were divided into two troupes performed separately in Wenleyuan and Fengleyuan in Shanghai. From the 7th year of Tongzhi period (in 1868), performers gradually returned to their original regions. However, in the 7th year of Guangxu period (in 1881), apparently, related performers suffered financial weakness because merely former Jufutang performers and deacons wanted to donate money to restore the Jufutang building, despite the fact that some performers wanted to follow previous regulations to donate by drawing straws and to participate in the trial performance to attract audience (according to Chongxiulaolangjuanzibeiji). During that period, even for famous troupes and perfomers in kunqu operas, their business was quite slow and even empty. In the 4th year of Guangxu period, famous dan named Qiu A’zeng and Zhou Fenglin, chou named Jiang Shanzhen, jing Qiu Bingquan and xiaosheng Zhou Zhaoquan once joint a troupe and came to perform in Beijing; Sixth dan named Xiao Jinhu (Zhang Mingpo) also proceeded northward to Beijing and cooperated with Yucheng Troupe who were specialized in Qin opera for performance. On April 11th of the 4th year of Guangxu Period, an article called Restructuring Opera Troupe published in Shenbao (a newspaper issued and administered by Qing Dynasty) wrote: “a former theatre inside Town God’s Temple of Suzhou Province has benn closed because its performers created disturbances and trouble due to unemployment and lack of audience. Recently, the audience favor Beijing Opera rather than kunqu ones for they like martial arts instead of liberal arts, and thus performers have to transfer from shang tune (dental consonant) to zhi tune (tongue consonant) while performing operas. Therefore, performers both in the fields of martial and liberal arts are invited to the temple to put on a joint performance. As this temple has already been restored, performances begin on this very day”.

 From Xianfeng to Xuanatong period, there were still several legend drama writers including Chen Lang from Changzhou City, Huang Junzai from Huaian City, Hu Hepeng from Shuyang City, Yan Baoyong from Dantu City, Yu Yue from Deqing City writing a large number of kunqu opera scripts that mainly concentrated on preparation for opera performance and main character analysis. Liu Qingyun from Donghai County of Jiangsu Province, a productive women writer, compiled 24 legend dramas, among which 10 types of Xiaopenglaixiaoguan Legend at that time. During the 1980s, two hand-copied scripts of Wangyangtan Legend and Nianhuawu Legend in Shuyang City were found by later generations.

Although kuqun opera declined, amateur dramatists in places where kuqun opera was once popular tried to form communities in order to preserve kuqun opera and pass this tradition down. Many of these dramatists were government officials, rich merchants, entrepreneurs and absolutely numerous learned scholars, and they cooperated with kunqu opera musicians and professionals, which added academic features to kunqu opera activities during modern times. The communities established were called “Qu Community”. These amateur dramatists mainly focused on unaccompanied singing. At the same time, under the help of opera professionals, they would make themselves up and went on the stage, which was called “caichuan”. Apart from regular activities (gathering with associates and colleagues, and holding unaccompanied singing activities), they actively collected, sorted and published several kinds of music score of operas, popularizing and preserving kunqu operas. During the Daoguang and Qianlong period, Han Huaqing from Songjiang District inherited essence of opera expertise from Yetang, another famous performer, and passed on this treasure to Yu Lilu. Living in Suzhou Province, Yu had extraordinary singing skills and presented a very clear and fluent voice in performance. According to Wumei, since the Qianlong and Jiaqing period when Niu Shuyu (also Niu Feishi) had a good reputation in opera performance, Yu was the only one who truly inherited the expertise of Ye Tang. Yu’s favorite discipline called Yu Xihou carried on all of his expertise, worked in “Daohe Qu Community” and devoted himself to writing operas all his life.

As Qu (Opera) community emerged, oral teaching couldn’t keep pace with times or meet the needs of learners among kunqu opera performers. As a result, from the 34th year of Daoguang period to the 36th year the Republic of China (1947), drawing experience from Nashuying Music Scores written by Ye Tang and E’yunge Music Scores by Wang Xichun, kunqu opera musicians as the backbone started to collect and publish 21 types of opera music scores that could facilitate practicing singing as well as real performance. For example, Liuye Music Scores by Yin Yanshen, Collections of kunqu operas by Zhang Yusun, Essence of Kunqu operas by Kunshan National Opera Preservation Association. The latter two music scores were both revised by Yin Yanshen, a well-known opera musician capable of multi-skills and proficient in rhythm, having as a sound reputation as that of Li Guinian (a widely-known opera musician in Tang Dynasty). Apart from above selective music score, according to performance books written since Ming and Qing Dynasties, Yin Yanshen sorted 6 full scores of A Legendary Pipa, Praying to the Moon, The Thorn Hairpin, Romance of the Western Chamber, The Peony Pavilion and The Palace of Eternal Youth, involving detailed and comprehensive information about music scores, words and melody, traditional Chinese musical scale, spoken parts and flute tone quality. With subtle music scores and very practicable features, these books had quite an influence on and made great contributions to kunqu opera performance since the end of Qing Dynasty. Later generations of opera musicians Wang Jilie and Liu Fuliang co-wrote the Comprehensive Music Scores. Wang also worked with Gao Buyun, a kunqu opera musician, to complie Yuzhong Music Scores, totally aiming at promoting performance on the stage and commented as handy instructions by all readers.

“Tangming”, is another way to preserve Kunqu Opera since the late Qing Dynasty. It is a civil professional organization, the members of which sing or play the lyrics or music in the Kunqu Opera by means of sit singing. They mainly sing the highlights from Kunqu Opera, and are active in the southern Jiangsu Province (centering Suzhou) and parts of Zhejiang Province. They were popular by end of the Qing Dynasty, and until now, they still exist in rural areas that speak Wu dialect in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Tangming is generally composed of eight people. Before singing, they would join together two square tables by the short side, and all of them would sit on two sides of the table separately. They take turns to play the instruments and play different characters, including the male lead, the female lead, the painted face, the middle-aged male and the clown. It is required that each member can both sing and play the instruments, and be familiar with the repertoire and lines of the lyrics and the spoken part of all the characters, so that they can partner with each other instantly. If the members are young people who are still learning Kunqu Opera, then the group is called “small Tangming”.