Professor Yong-yih Tseng, Honorary Academician of Academia Sinica, donated his manuscript of Xiqu yanjinshi (The Evolutionary History of Traditional Opera) to National Central Library. On July 1, 2020, NCL held a donation ceremony in its International Conference Hall and invited Professor Tseng, his family, students and friends. Xiqu yanjinshi is a colossal work with ten major chapters: “Southern Opera in the Song, Yuan, and Ming,” “Northern Dramas in the Jin, Yuan, and Ming,” The Background of Traditional Opera in the Ming and Qing,” “Poetic Dramas in the Ming and Qing,” “Southern Dramas in the Ming and Qing,” “Modern Traditional Operas,” “Puppet Plays,” etc. It is the summation of research on traditional Chinese operas and a new milestone after Guowei Wang’s Song Yuan Xiqu shi (The History of Traditional Opera in the Song and Yuan).
Professor Yong-yih Tseng is the only author in the Chinese world that can produce Kun opera. The structure of the script, the wording and rhyme are all meticulously done in the old style. It is as if they were written by the great playwrights of the Ming and Qing. Each is an exquisite work in its own right, especially A New Version of Han Fei, Li Si, and Qinshi Huang, A Kun Opera; A New Version of Erzi chengzhou, A Kun Opera; A New Version of Meng Jiang nu, A Kun Opera; A New Version of Liang Shanbo yu Zhu Yingtai, a Kun Opera; Zheng Chenggong, a Peking Opera; and A New Version of Taohua shan, an Opera.
Invited to the donation ceremony were famous opera singers Wen-hua Tang, Yuhang Wen, Yangqiang Zhao, and Ming-ling Chu who performed the arias “The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea," “The Heavenly Official Bestows Blessings,” and “The Yellow Dragon Descends.” National Central Library also unveiled “Pages of Drunken Maundering: An Exhibition of Academician Yong-yih Tseng’s Manuscripts.”
NCL Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng stated, this is the second manuscript Professor Tseng has donated to NCL. In 2017, he donated a cache of manuscripts, totaling more than 300 in all. In addition to scholarly works, there were many travel records, emotive prose, and old poems. Including the Xiqu yanjinshi, his manuscripts total over 2 million characters. Professor Tseng is a cultural icon and his donation will be an example to others, causing others in society to place more importance and give more support to National Central Library’s archiving efforts of such manuscripts.
Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng also pointed out that in the information age people have largely abandoned paper and pen when writing books. In future days, there may not be any more manuscripts produced. Because of this, in terms of cultural legacy and cultural asset preservation, the manuscripts of famous people should diligently be sought out and treasured. Manuscripts received by the National Central Library in recent years total more than 80,000. NCL has also created the Contemporary Celebrities' Manuscripts database. The manuscripts and paintings received have been digitized and preserved in the online database. In this way, they are accessible to the entire world and made easy for patrons to view, admire, and research.