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    The Masterpiece of South Tunes - The Tale of Pi-pa (Pi-pa Ji):
    The playwright Gao Ming (1305~1359) was not only good at calligraphy, but also excelled in writing poems and prose, not to mention lyrics and tunes. As an office clerk, he was the first one from upper class who was engaged in playwriting.
    The story goes as follows: On the command of his father, the scholar Cai Bojie said goodbye to his newly-wed and left for the capital to take part in the state examination. He became the No. 1 Scholar of the country. However, he was forced to marry the daughter of the Prime Minister Niu after unsuccessful resignation to office and unsuccessful refusal to the marriage. Three years later, his hometown Chenliu County suffered a big drought. His first wife Zhao Wuniang attended upon her parents-in-law piously but still could not save them from dying of hunger. After she paid off the funeral affairs at the cost of her hair, she took the pi-pa (a traditional Chinese instrument) with her and begged all the way to the capital looking for her husband. The couple finally met each other in a private school. Later the husband and his two wives returned to his hometown to worship their ancestors and were also honored by the emperor.
    The theme of the Tale of Pi-pa is rather complicated. Cai Bojie's three refusals (refuse to sit for the exam, refuse to marry, refuse to take an official position) as well as his absolute loyalty and filial piety bring much discussion in the academic world. But the play is quite successful in structure, the design of the conflicts and the depiction of the characters. Especially when it comes to the pattern, it almost becomes the model for the subsequent inditement of legendaries, hence the title "the masterpiece of Southern Opera". It is the Pearl of the South while Za-Ju The West Chamber Tale well represents the North.
In Ming and Qing dynasty, the newly booming style of opera - legendary, began to fully occupy the stage and attracted many intellectuals into playwriting. The study of theatric theories also mushroomed. Zhejiang theater was expecting an artistic glory with open arms.
The Tale of Pi-pa
 
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