By Maria Spiliopoulou, Valentini Anagnostopoulou
ATHENS, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Melodies and tunes centuries old from ancient China resounded at the foot of the Athens Acropolis, a citadel of ancient Greece, Wednesday evening, giving the audience a marvelous night of the meeting of two great civilizations traversing both the distance and time.
As part of celebrations for the China-Greece Cultural Exchanges and Culture Industry Cooperation Year, a troupe from China's Suzhou Kun Opera Theatre of east China's Jiangsu Province presented the opera, one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, at the foot of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The exquisite performance of six scenes from the Peony Pavilion, a play written by playwright Tang Xianzu in the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century was staged at the impressive Roman-era Herod Atticus Theater in the context of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the most prestigious annual cultural festival in Greece since 1955.
A total of 36 performers, musicians and technical crew staged the impeccable performance of the classic masterpiece of Kun Opera, one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera with over 600 years of history.
Despite the long history, the powerful plot of the extraordinary tale of love between two young people, the beautiful melodies, the elegant costumes, and the grace and skills of the performers fall no short of enthralling the audience today.
"We are so happy that on the occasion of the Year of Greece-China friendship we watch this performance. Since I come from the theater field, as a director, I feel that the affinity between the two civilizations in theater is so intense... I think it is precious for us, people involved in theater, to watch such performances," Vangelis Theodoropoulos, artistic director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, told Xinhua following the performance.
"I think the Greek audience has a very good understanding of opera in general and I think they comprehend our Kun opera. Kun opera is a masterpiece of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage," the director Cai Shaohua told Xinhua, shortly before the show.
"I think that opera is a very good art form for communication and exchanges between different cultures and different peoples. This time apart from the performance we are going to the Athens School of Fine Arts to do a workshop and we are looking forward to exchange ideas with students, with professors and with the general public," Cai said.
According to the director, to present a beautiful Chinese love story in a beautiful Chinese opera before the audience, the troupe has been fully prepared.
This is not the first time for the Suzhou Kun Opera Theatre to perform in Athens. In 2008, they performed in three nights in the Megaron Concert Hall and also won a big success.
Angeliki Pagoni, a Greek teacher who is also staging theater shows for children, watched Wednesday's performance with her daughter. She was impressed by the artistic techniques and told Xinhua she will attempt to use them in her future shows.
"It is the first time I am watching a Chinese cultural performance. I came out of curiosity, because my daughter is fond of Chinese culture. She took the initiative to buy the tickets and I came along," she said.
"It is great getting acquainted with the culture and the art techniques of different peoples. It is so enriching," she added, underlining the significance of further enhancing cultural exchanges between peoples.