Mixed Xiqu Excerpt Performance

The Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe will perform seven Xiqu Excerpt programmes on the night including Huangmei Xi: Excerpt from A Couple Enjoying the Lantern FestivalXiangju: "Painting the Last Portraits" from The Story of the LuteXiju: "Trudge in the Snow" from The Pearl Pagoda, Qinqiang: Blaming the Gods at the TempleHuaiju: "Invocation to Heaven" from Xianglin's WifeChuanju: "Pricking Eyes" from Li Yaxianand Yangju and Yueju: "A Long Road and a Fond Parting" from Butterfly Lovers.

The performances of the Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe are jointly presented by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and the Chinese Theatre Association

Date

19 January 2014 (Sunday)

Time
7:30pm

Programme

Huangmei Xi: Excerpt from A Couple Enjoying the Lantern Festival

Cast: Yang Jun (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 13th Plum Blossom Award), Zhang Chunyao (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 26th Plum Blossom Award)

Huangmei Opera is a traditional theatrical genre popularly found in the region of Anhui and Hubei. It is one of the five major theatrical genres of China, and is distinguished by the natural, flowing vocal delivery and naturalistic presentation.
A Couple Enjoying the Lantern Festival is a classic of the Huangmei genre.  At the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Wang Xiaolu and his wife, who live in a town in Anqing, happily take a stroll and admire the sea of lanterns on the streets and share the fun with their neighbours.  In the course of it, some funny anecdotes happen.  Presented in the lively song-and-dance format often found in folk entertainment, the play highlights the happiness of the peasant folks and how they find pleasure in simple, everyday things.

Xiangju: "Painting the Last Portraits" from The Story of the Lute

Cast: Cao Rulong (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 13th Plum Blossom Award), Cao Weizhi

‘Xiang’ is the abbreviated reference to Hunan, so ‘Xiang Ju’ refers to a regional theatrical genre of the Hunan province. It is popularly found in the region of Changsha and Xiangtan. Its origin can be traced to the Yiyangqiang of the Ming period, but later it also assimilated other vocal styles such as Kunqiang and pihuang. It therefore is made up of many vocal types – gaoqiang, dipaizi, Kunqiang, luantan etc. - as found in various traditional theatrical forms. “Painting the last Portraits” is an excerpt from The Story of the Lute, a gaoqiang full-length opera in the Xiang Opera system. The story goes like this: Cai Bojie and Zhao Wuniang are newly-weds, but soon Cai has to leave home to go to the capital for the national civil examination. He plucks the laurels and is forced to become the Prime Minister’s son-in-law. Back home, the region has been struck by famine, and Cai’s father and mother die from hunger. His wife, Wuniang, paints the images of her in-laws to take with her before setting out to find her husband in the capital. Her neighbour, Zhang Guangcai, sees her off at the main road.

Xiju: "Trudge in the Snow" from The Pearl Pagoda

Cast: Zhou Dongliang (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 19 th Plum Blossom Award)

Wuxi Opera is one of the major regional theatrical genres of Jiangsu.  It is popularly found in the southern and middle region of Jiangsu, Shanghai, northern Zhejiang, and southeastern part of Anhui.  Its vernacular nature gives it a strong earthy touch, but it is also naturalistic in depiction of emotions and in the dialogues.  
The Pearl Pagoda is one of the best known works in Wuxi Opera. The story goes like this: Fang Qing is the grandson of a former prime minister, but his family has fallen into hard times.  He goes to his aunt’s place to request for a loan, only to be humiliated because she is a snob.  His cousin, Chen Cui’e, gives him the family heirloom, the precious pearl pagoda, to help him continue to study.  Later, Fang does come top in the civil examination, and applies to return home to get married.  He first disguises himself as a Taoist monk and comes to the Chen’s Residence to sing a song of wisdom to gives his aunt a piece of his mind.  She is shamed into realizing her fault.  The aunt and nephew make up, and in the end, Fang Qing and Cui’e are married.

Qinqiang: Blaming the Gods at the Temple

Cast: Qi Aiyun (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 21st Plum Blossom Award)

Qinqiang’ is one of the oldest theatrical forms that are still extant in China today and spawned the various subgenres of clapper opera. It is popularly found in the northwestern part of China, such as Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. The vocal style is typified by its open, robust tones, with sonorous ‘attack’ notes mingled with poignancy. The flamboyant presentation style seems to have come from the rustic, forthright character of the people in that part of China.

Blaming the Gods at the Temple is an excerpt from the Qinqiang traditional opera, Wang Kui the Heartless.  Wang Kui is a penniless scholar.  When he faints in the snow out of hunger and cold, he is taken in by Xi Guiying, a famous courtesan. The two become married. Before Wang leaves for the capital to attend the national civil examination, the two go to the temple of the Sea God and make a pledge that they will remain true and faithful to each other no matter what.  But when Wang comes top in the examination, he sends Guiying a letter of annulment.  Devastated and heartbroken, Guiying brings her grievances before the Sea God at the temple in a tearful accusation of her unworthy lover before hanging herself. 

Huaiju: "Invocation to Heaven" from Xianglin's Wife

Cast: Chen Cheng (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 21st Plum Blossom Award)

Chuanju: "Pricking Eyes" from Li Yaxian

Cast: Shen Tiemei (Vice-chairman of the Chinese Theatre Associa­tion, National First-class Performer and winner of the Plum Blossom Grand Award), Sun Yongbo (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 20th Plum Blossom Award)

Sichuan Opera has a long history, and is popularly found all over the province of Sichuan as well as in regions covering Yunnan and Guizhou.  Its vocal style is a hybrid of gaoqiang, Kunqiang, huqinqiang, ruoqiang and the vernacular ‘lantern opera’ (dengxi). It is therefore very much a plebeian genre and is close to the heart of the people. The star of this performance, Shen Tiemei, is dubbed “the top vocalist” in Sichuan Opera, as she is able to build upon her solid command of singing styles of Sichuan Opera with the uniqueness of styles from Peking Opera and Kunqu, as well as the use of her naturally endowed voice to present a unique singing style.

The story goes like this: Zheng Yuanhe, the son of a high official, happens to meet Li Yaxian, a courtesan famous for her singing skills, in a market. It is love at first sight, and Zheng becomes a patron at Li’s Yichun Pavilion.  But soon when he has spent all his money at the brothel, the pimp cheats him to get out of the door and then shuts it on him. The lovers are separated. While Zheng lives in destitute on the streets, Li abides by her love pledge and turns down patrons. Later, she and Zheng meet again. By this time, he is already in dire straits, having been sick and poor for a long time. In order to encourage her beloved to pick up the studies that he has long discarded, Li even pricks her eyes to make him aware love should not be everything.  Zheng is finally brought around to see that he must work hard for their future.

Yangju and Yueju: "A Long Road and a Fond Parting" from Butterfly Lovers

Cast: Li Zhengcheng (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 21st Plum Blossom Award), Shan Yangping (National First-class Per­former and winner of the 17th Plum Blossom Award)

Yang Opera is popularly found in the regions of Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, parts of Anhui, and Nanjing, Shanghai etc. This theatrical genre evolved from the ‘flower-drum playlets’, a folk song-and-dance performance, and xianghuoxi, or ‘joss plays’- the ritual performances to thank the gods held at temple fairs, of northern Suzhou. It assimilates the qingqu of Yangzhou and folk ditties in its music.  The actor playing the role of Liang Shanbo in this excerpt sings in the tradition of Yang Opera.
Yue Opera is popularly found in Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Fujian, and is one of the five main types of regional opera in China.  The subject matter is often about the romantic love between ‘talented scholars and pretty ladies’.  Yue Opera’s distinctive feature is its lyricism; the vocal delivery is sweet, sonorous, and appealing, while naturalism is favoured in the presentation.  The overall effect reflects the delicate beauty of scenic Jiangnan.  The actor playing the role of Zhu Yingtai in this excerpt sings in the tradition of Yue Opera.

With Chinese and English subtitles

Ticket Price
$280 (Limited tickets avaiable), $200
Senior citizens, full-time students, people with disabilities and their accompanying minder, and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients are entitled to a 50% discount
Audience members aged 3 and above are welcome

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