An engaging discussion with Professor Joseph Lam, from the University of Michigan. A musicologist and sinologist, Lam specializes in the music and culture of Southern Song (1127-1275), Ming (1368-1644), and modern China (1900 to present).
Traditional kunqu, a genre of classical Chinese theatre, tells many Chinese love stories, and some performances feature kinetic, musical, verbal, and visual gestures designed to titillate the audience. This kunqu titillation is always aesthetically and virtuosically presented. Indeed, one of the reasons why kunqu appeals to many elite men or women in traditional China is the fact that the genre is romantic/erotic but never vulgar/pornographic. Thus, kunqu titillation constitutes a window to examine not only aesthetics and performance practices of the genre, but also its cultural and social messages about traditional and gendered China. To promote kunqu appreciation and to reveal its eroticism, this presentation analyzes the erotic acting, singing, and speaking in three masterpieces: "Qintiao/Zither Seductions" ; "Sifan/Yearning for the Secular World"; and the "Huozhou/Caught Alive by a Deceased Former Lover."
© 2013. The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.