Three Trials of Miss Yu Tang Chun

(San shen Yu Tang Chun)

Volumes 3 and 4 of 6Volumes 5 and 6 of 6

Volumes 1 and 2 are not in the collection

The plot of this play is adapted from the popular novel Yu Tang Chun Meets Her Husband, written by Feng Menglong (A.D. 1574-1646). Set during the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644), this opera tells the love story of a courtesan and a young scholar.

Courtesan Su San, known as Yu Tang Chun, falls in love with Wang Jinlong, a handsome young scholar and the son of a retired official. Wang Jinlong frequents the brothel and Su San's lodge there, and when his money runs out, the procuress bars him from returning. He has no place to live except in a deserted temple. Su San secretly gives him her savings, and urges him to return home to prepare for the civil service exam.

Su San refuses to serve any other guests following Wang Jinlong's departure, so the brothel-keeper sells her as a concubine to Shen Yanlin, a rich merchant from Shanxi Province. The merchant's wife has an affair with another young man, then poisons her husband and brings a false charge against Su San in the county court. She bribes the magistrate, and Su San is sentenced to death.

Following his outstanding performance in the imperial civil service examination, Wang Jinlong has become a high official in charge of justice at Taiyuan. When he reads about the case, he has questions about the merchant's murder and orders that the suspect be brought to Taiyuan. Su San is thus escorted to Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province, to have her sentence re-examined. Three senior officials, including Wang Jinlong, review the case and, when Wang Jinlong sees that the accused is his former lover, he is deeply shocked.

In court, Su San declares her innocence. Wang Jinlong pays her a private visit in jail, but is discovered by another official, who is persuaded to further investigate the case to discover the truth. The truth finally comes out, the maid to Shen's wife finally confesses to the plot, and Su San is acquitted. Wang, who was formerly her lover, can now be reunited with her and they marry and live happily ever after.