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Opera and the CityThe Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770–1900$
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Andrea Goldman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778312

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778312.001.0001

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Sex versus Violence in “I, Sister-in-Law” Operas

Sex versus Violence in “I, Sister-in-Law” Operas

(p.175) Five Sex versus Violence in “I, Sister-in-Law” Operas
Opera and the City
Stanford University Press

This chapter concentrates on a series of performance scripts about the “sisters-in-law.” “I, Sister-in-Law” operas report the woman's estrangement from her husband, her thwarted attempt to seduce her husband's brother, her subsequent adultery with a different lover, and the final retribution inflicted upon the woman for her licentiousness. The plots of these operas developed out of the Water Margin story cycle. Commercial kunju “I, Sister-in-Law” plays have tended to evoke sympathy for the transgressive woman; later pihuang operas sided with the male bravos. Record of the Water Margin, Righteous Hero, and Cuiping Mountain had a formative effect on later performance versions of the plots. The roles performed by the dan actors in Water Margin have traversed a continuum from qing authenticity to comic burlesque. The study of the transformation of the sister-in-law episodes from this story kept currency in public entertainment genres through the end of the imperial era.

Keywords:   sisters-in-law, Water Margin, kunju, dan actors, Righteous Hero, Cuiping Mountain, pihuang operas, public entertainment genres, imperial era

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