a. The operas in the Yuan Dynasty
The reasons why the Yuan Zaju became the prosperity of a generation were chances supported by those two apsects that the development of the arts and the social reality. From the artistic development view, the Chinese opera had went through a long-term gestation and had a thick accumulation reaching the its maturity not only in the internal structure but also in the external performance. Just at this moment, the traditional poems and verses were on the way to their decline after their glorious heyday in the Tang and Song Dynasties. In the talented artists’ eyes, the field of the traditional Chinese opera was a new land place which was been waiting for them to cultivate. From the social reality perspective, the rulers of the Yuan Dynasty abolished the Chinese Imperial Examinations Institution, which not only cut off the possibility of intellectuals ascending official career, but also kicked them to a humble status, just higher than beggars and lower than the common people and the prostitutes. So these intellectuals, although were with a higher knowledge, ranked into the bottom of society. Confronting the reality of drifting apart the world of classics and histories, the intellectuals only went to the Gou Lan Wa She( the theatres in that time) to pass time or to earn their living. Hence, the rising Yuan Zaju accidently obtained groups of professional playwrights. They had a professional organization named
“ Book Group” which the playwright who took part in were called the “ book group’s sir”. These abjection intellectuals both cooperated and completed in the group, worked together to create the golden eras of the Chinese opera. Compared to the poems which were patial to express the subjective state of mind and moods in the past time, the Yuan Zaju was different in treating the goal of widely reflecting the social reality as self responsibility. Obviously, that was due to the experience that the playwrights had ever lived in the alleys and rural villages and had the profound understanding and feeling of the social reality.
Among the script system of the Yuan Zaju, most scripts were composed of four plots and one wedge. The four plots refered to the four plot paragraphs, which just liked a complete article being particular about the connecting link between the preceding and the following. And the wedge with a short length, always was put before the first plot, a little similar to the prologue in the later time. The Yuan Zaju centered on the singing combining with the speaking performance form. Every plot was composed of a set of tunes, which had a rhyme only and were sung by Zhengmo( the heroe) or Zhengdan( the heroine). These pattern could greatly give full scope to the singing art and model the major character’s image fully and delightfully. The spoken parts in the opera were affected by the traditions of Canjun Drama, so always did the comical actions and spoke the comical dialogues. Unifying the musical structure and the opera structure together to reach the complete state in the system, indicated the artistic maturity and perfection of the Yuan Zaju.
b. The opera in the Ming Dynasty
Because the legends, a kind of opera form, went down to the Qing Dynasty, so were called the Ming and Qing Dynasties’ Legends. It inherited the system of the system of the Nan Song Dynasty in form, moreover more complete. A script, mostly included about 30 scenes, which was divided into two parts, at the same time, the playwright especially focused on the well-knit of the structure and alternation of the comical actions and dialogues. The tunes of legends also took the modality of uniting and alternation of the tunes, but made a progress compared to the opera of the Nan Song Dynasty by limiting just a plot with one tune and how many tunes in a plot were decided by the needs of the story. Another progressive point was that all the roles on the stage could sing.
In the late Ming Dynasty, there began to rage the prevailing custom centering on the Zhezi Xi( highlights from the operas). It was relative independent fragment in a whole drama, but with the splendid scenes and wonderful singing. The popularity of the Zhezi Xi was the result of the powerful development of the performing art of opera, and the selection and obsolete of the time and audience. After the audience were familiar with the plots, then could appreciate the performing art of the Zhezi Xi with abandon. The plots such as You Yuan and Jing Meng in the Mu Dan Ting, the Ta Shan and Bai Yue in the Pai Yue Ting Ji, the Qin Tiao and Zui Zhou in the Yu Zan Ji, all these have become the high-quality plays beloved by the audiences.
c. The operas in the Qing Dynasty
The Chang Sheng Dian derived from the love story of the Emperor Tangming Huang and his imperial concubine Yanggui Fei. From the moment which they both fell in love with each other, the concubine Yang Yuhuan protected the stable relationship between them to be jealous, wrangling, try to do anything to gain the emperor’s favor; and the Tangming Huang was also addicted to the soft and beauty of the Yanggui Fei and forgot the affairs of state. The emperor’s decadence careerist, An Lushan’s insurgency and people’s resentment. Under the pressure of the sergeants’ mutiny, Tangming Huang had no alternative to kill the Yanggui Fei in the Mawei slope. However, the incident in the Mawei slope didn’t mean the end for the play. The playwright, Hong Sheng made the achievement of the love story in the ideal kingdom of heaven—— the hero and the heroine both flied up to heaven and the love finally came true and sublimated in the dreams. Chang Sheng Dian was not just a simple love play, but stated the notorious love story of the Li Longji and Yang Yuhuan under the wide social and political backgrounds. It was the eulogizing of the ideal love, at the same time, the social unrests and the suffering livelihood of the common people with a long and vivid describing and revealing in the play implied Hong Sheng’s feeling about the rising and falling of the nation and political criticism for the emperor’s decadence.
So, the image modeling of the Li Longji and Yang Yuhuan in Chang Sheng Dian, have both praise and criticism at the same time. The love create by the Hong Sheng in his playwrights, included the both opposite sides, the good and bad, it was also the insurmountable contraction for him and his playwrights.