|Wu Opera’s New Students in Africa|
On September 5, around 10:00 AM Kenya time, Chen Meilan’s creative team from the Zhejiang Wu Opera Academy visited the University of Nairobi for an art exchange. At the Confucius Institute, they delivered an immersive Wu Opera lesson that captivated many students. In fact, five were so inspired that they immediately committed to delving deeper into the art form, seeking ongoing remote guidance from the instructors.
“I’ve learned Chinese opera and know a few songs, but I’ve never tried Wu Opera before. The Chinese culture is incredibly interesting!” Michelle loves Chinese culture, so she quickly signed up when she heard about the chance to meet Wu Opera experts at her school. She didn’t expect that her performance of Ode to Pear Blossoms would get compliments from Wu Opera stars like Yang Xiayun, Lou Sheng, and Chen Lili. Chen even chose to mentor her. Michelle said, “The teacher showed me how to put on makeup. I’ve never felt so beautiful before.”
Han Shaoyu sang “Friends” and caught Lou Sheng’s attention with his voice. Right away, Lou Sheng taught him a piece from the Wu Opera called The Jade Hairpin. They even sang a duet, making other students eager to join in.
Actor Hu Dongxiao’s face-changing performance in Wu Opera was particularly beloved, and students enthusiastically asked him to paint a mask on their faces as well. Zhejiang Wu Opera actors readily agreed, with actors like Liu Fuming and Zhao Kongjie applying makeup for them in different roles, including foundation, eye makeup, and eyebrows. Four students, including Karita, didn’t dare to move an inch, fearing they might accidentally smudge the makeup. After the masks were finished, they were amazed as they posed in character, feeling like they had become rising stars of Wu Opera.
Meanwhile, Karen and a group of students, guided by Yang Xiayun, had the chance to try out various aspects of Wu Opera, including using long ‘water sleeves’ and various stage movements. They got to experience the charm of Wu Opera.
“Wu Opera culture is incredibly fascinating. The actors’ singing and graceful movements are truly beautiful. This performance made me very happy, and I genuinely enjoyed it. It’s truly amazing!” commented the school’s teachers and students as the performance came to an end, and they added, “If the opportunity arises, we will definitely travel to China and watch Wu Opera at a Chinese Wu Opera Theater.” (By Xia Binting)