It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to savor traditional Chinese theater performed by first-class performers straight from Shanghai, but thanks to the combined sponsorship of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Wintergreen Kungu Society and the University of Chicago, the Shanghai Kunqu Music Theater Group will work its magic by presenting extended excerpts from two Chinese classics: “Joys of the Fishermen,” a first-century story of the daughter of a fisherman accidentally killed in the aftermath of the murder of the 11-year old emperor, and “The Water Margin,” a famous Chinese adulteress ghost story that has the actress playing the ghost employ such stylized traditional movements as the “ghost walk,” where she appears to be moving without obvious movement of her own. The seven-musician highly percussive ensemble that will accompany the theater pieces with traditional Chinese instruments will also demonstrate classical kunqu opera, the oldest and most refined of all Chinese operatic traditions still being performed. (Dennis Polkow)
Kunqu Music Society of Shanghai performs “Joys of the Fishermen” and “The Water Margin” at the Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington, (312)744-6630, at 7pm on May 7. Free.