Montana Students Experienced Chinese Kunqu Opera in Shanghai


In June of 2023, the Baucus Institute took eight students from Montana State University and the University of Montana to China for 10 days. U.S. former Ambassador to China Max Baucus and his wife Mel also attended the trip. From June 17 to June 27, the students traveled to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, engaging in people-to-people diplomacy, climate and environmental seminars, and cultural exchanges.

The students visited Shanghai from June 24 to 26. They went to the Kunqu Opera Study Center at Gubei Civic Center, where they watched Kunqu Opera selections, performed the water-sleeve dance, and learned Kunqu Opera gestures, experiencing the charm of traditional Chinese culture.

Kunqu Opera developed under the Ming dynasty (14th-17th Centuries) in the city of Kunshan, which is situated in the region of Suzhou in Southeast China. With its roots in popular theatre, the repertory of songs evolved into a major theatrical form. Kunqu is one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera still performed today.

Meanwhile, the delegation also took a night cruise along the Huangpu River, enjoying the cityscape on riversides and a taste of the bustling Shanghai. The students regarded the night cruise as the best way to enjoy the glitzy nightlife of Shanghai.

The Huangpu River is the largest river inside Shanghai city, with the Suzhou Creek being its major tributary. It divides the city into two regions : Puxi (west of Huangpu), the traditional city center, and Pudong (east of Huangpu).