Caixin OnlineSociety & Culture How Opera Came to China
05.09.2014 13:52

How Opera Came to China

Ready for its close-up, the gilded stage of Western-style opera in China is putting the spotlight on its origins
By Sheila Melvin

The great Chinese writer Lu Xun wrote, "History records the soul of China, pointing out the future. Yet because it is overwritten and laden with rubbish, it is hard to see what is actually there. Like the moonlight seen reflected on moss through the leaves of a tree, all you can make out are shifting shadows."

Lu Xun was thinking of the "Twenty-Four Histories," which he was reading at the time, but his words may be applied to pretty much any branch of history – and have perhaps rung even truer in the decades since his death, a period in which politics has so often trumped facts. His elegant words often come to mind when I study some aspect of China's past in an effort to understand its present, most recently as I sought to explore the origins of Western opera in China.

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