Prof Pai Hsien-yung, a renowned writer and a recent recipient of the Doctor of Letters honoris causa degree from the University of Macau (UM), today (24 February) delivered a lecture titled ‘My Kun Opera Journey’ at UM in the University Hall, to share his insights on Kun opera, a precious gem of traditional Chinese culture.
Rector Wei Zhao delivered a speech at the lecture. ‘The fact that such Chinese literary gurus as Pai Hsien-yung, Wang Meng, Mo Yan, Yu Guangzhong, and Jin Yong received our honorary titles means encouragingly that they recognise what our university does, in particular our discipline of Chinese language and literature,’ said Rector Zhao. ‘We are pleased to say that it is one of our most established, strongest and most academically influential disciplines. Let this fact speak for itself: the number of its academic publications found in the top journals or publishers has reached or even exceeded what a top university is expected to perform as far as this field is concerned.’ He added, ‘It has also always been my stance that a top university can’t go without a strong programme of the language and literature studied in the mother tongue of that place, and in our case Chinese. For this discipline to have a well-grounded development, this view and policy have to be maintained.’
In his lecture, Prof Pai recounted how he was touched when he watched Peony Pavilion, a masterpiece of Kun opera, for the first time. He discussed the need to revitalise Kun opera, which has been on a decline since the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, and the challenges in accomplishing this task in an age where people crave constant changes. He also talked about the importance of reversing the decline of Kun opera amid the inexorable trend towards increased globalisation in the 21st century, and how the revitalisation of this precious cultural gem will serve as a prologue to the revitalisation of traditional Chinese art and culture as a whole.
The lecture attracted a full-house audience. Nearly in his 80s, Pai left a deep impression on the audience with his eloquence and mental agility, both during the talk and in the question and answer session.