In his letters to friends,Qi Biaojia expressed his hope to compile a collection of xiqu-plays in the Ming dynasty to promote contemporary xiqu-plays with textual criticism of the manuscripts. Qi inherited Wang Jide's idea of being the first to bridge the gap in the xiqu world and Lv Tiancheng's "intention to be close to the secular." Therefore, he tried hard to collect all the xiqu-plays in the Ming dynasty available to him, and compiled a monograph on xiqu-plays. Qi focused on manuscripts rather than on the playwrights or actors as his basis of evaluation. As opera music meters and performance were not his expertise,Qi paid more attention to the structure and narrative of the plays. Before Li Yu in the Qing dynasty with his theorization of structure, Qi considered narrative structure as the primary element in dramatic works,and this was a typical characteristics of literati evaluation. Limitations aside,Qi's criticism be argued as an indication of transition from the study of the music to the study of the play in the late Ming dynasty.


Qi Biaojia, letters on xiqu-plays, narrative, opera music meters