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City Guides / Guides

Suzhou classical gardens and Kun Opera

By Rudong Wang

June 5

Some people say that the Kun Opera is like floating gardens and the gardens are like a static Kun Opera, so it would be perfect to be able to enjoy the opera in the gardens in Suzhou.

Some people say that the Kun Opera is like floating gardens and the gardens are like a static Kun Opera, so it would be perfect to be able to enjoy the opera in the gardens in Suzhou.

Suzhou has been called “the city of gardens” for centuries and nine of the most elegant ones were listed as World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1997 and in 2001. The Humble Administrator’s Garden, the most famous of them all, is a must-see place for tourists in Suzhou.

The Kun Opera was formed over 600 years ago and has been called the “mother of all other Chinese operas.” The Beijing Opera, for example, owes much to its predecessor in the south of the country. It was listed as one of the world’s first Intangible Cultural Heritages by UNESCO in 2001.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator’s Garden [Photo provided to China.org.cn by Wang Rudong]
Some people say that the Kun Opera is like floating gardens and the gardens are like a static Kun Opera, so it would be perfect to be able to enjoy the opera in the gardens in Suzhou.

That’s why the Humble Administrator’s Garden recently rolled out a Kun Opera-themed tour in the garden. Since the Kun Opera was originally performed in private family houses, the opera house in the garden, with a capacity of no more than 60 people, can make the performances more authentic by replicating that intimacy. Local snacks are served to complete your Suzhou experience.

Kun Opera in Humble Administrator's Garden
Kun Opera in Humble Administrator’s Garden [Photo provided to China.org.cn by Wang Rudong]
Although the performances are in Chinese, the Kun Opera transcends the language barrier by being an art form with meticulously choreographed moves and beautifully designed costumes. Lose yourself in the lilt of a gentle dialect and let the exotic music from hundreds of years ago do the talking.

The Kun Opera is having a revival thanks to the booming tourism in the region. Listen and see for yourself what’s drawing so many people from different parts of the country and the world. Besides the Humble Administrator’s Garden, you can also see it performed at the Master-of-Nets Garden and the Institution of Kun Opera, among other locations.

Kun Opera Backstage in Humuble Administrator’s Garden [Photo provided to China.org.cn by Wang Rudong]
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