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Assembly of Heroes (Qunying hui)

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Period: late Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink and color on silk
Format: album leaf

Dimensions: 56 x 56 cm

Set in the Three Kingdoms' period (220-265), the opera tells a story of the struggle between the alliance of Liu Bei and Sun Quan against Cao Cao. Liu Bei's advisor Zhuge Liang pays a visit to the Eastern Wu regime and discusses strategies with Zhou Yu, the commander-in-chief. Before the battle, Zhou and Zhuge engage in a battle of words and wits, including famous episodes such as Jiang Gan stealing the letter, borrowing arrows with straw men in boats (caochuan jiejian), Zhou Yu punishing general Huang Gai (the ruse of inflicting an injury on oneself to win the confidence of the enemy). In this opera, Zhou Yu gathers Eastern Wu military officials to host a banquet for Jiang Gan, lobbyist sent by Cao Cao to induce them to surrender. The banquet is hailed as "assembly of heroes", from which the title of the opera originated. The opera features many different kinds of roles—elder man (laosheng) of baritone voice, young man (xiaosheng) with tenor voice, comic character, and male character with painted face (hualian)—who perform an extensive repertoire of stage actions: singing, elocution, gesturing, and acrobatics.

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