This unmissable feast of classic Cantonese opera excerpts is presented by a highly regarded cast. Featured stars include Ding Fan and Jiang Wenrui, both well known among Hong Kong’s Cantonese opera fans, Ou Kaiming, who studied under the late Cantonese opera diva and film legend Hung Sin-nui, and the multi-talented Li Junsheng. Joining them are Chen Yunhong, Li Shuqin and Yao Zhiqiang.
“Guessing What Troubles a Husband’s Mind” from Di Qing’s Three Campaigns
During the Northern Song period, the Song territory is frequently raided by nomads from the northwest. In retaliation, the Song imperial court orders military commander Di Qing to lead an expedition against the raiders. While returning from the mission, Di Qing mistakenly leads his troops into the independent territory of neighbouring Shanshan kingdom. The incursion angers the king, who orders his daughter Princess Shuangyang, an expert warrior, to teach Di Qing a lesson.
Leading her forces into battle against the trespassers, Shuangyang quickly demonstrates her superior martial skills, defeating Di Qing’s troops and capturing him alive. Struck by the good looks of her handsome captive, the princess spares Di Qing’s life and takes him as her husband. Despite his comfortable situation, Di Qing is unable to forget his homeland and loyalty to the Song. When he learns that his family is being persecuted, he takes back the horse and sword the princess has confiscated and steals away in the dead of night. But Shuangyang gives chase, rebuking Di Qing for his ingratitude and reminding him how well he has been treated. When Di Qing confesses his inner struggle, Shuangyang is moved by his loyalty and reluctantly allows him to leave.
“A Pledge of Love Before Leaving” from The Beauty Trap
Set in ancient China, at a time when the southern states of Wu and Yue were constantly at war, The Beauty Trap recounts the struggle between Fucha, the king of Wu, and Goujian the king of Yue, who is captured by Fucha during a fierce attack on the Yue capital.
Three long years later, Goujian is released. Returning home he begins to plot his revenge, enlisting the aid of Fan Li, a prominent official keen to see the Yue state restored to power. Having learned that Fucha has a weakness for the pleasures of the flesh, Fan travels to Ninglu mountain to seek out a young woman name Xi Shi who is famed for her beauty.
Persuading Xi to use her charms and seduce Fucha for the sake of the Yue state, Fan begins to work with her on their plot. Together day and night, the two conspirators soon develop feelings for each other. And as the day of departure draws closer, they profess their longing to be together …
“Reprimanding the Gods” from The Ungrateful Wang Kui
This Song Dynasty play tells the story of Wang Kui, a poor scholar from Shandong. Having failed the imperial examinations, Wang Kui finds himself forced to beg in the streets. Here he encounters Jiao Guiying, a young courtesan who takes pity on him and decides to help him get back on his feet. As a token of her love she presents Wang with a jade pendant and they begin live together as husband and wife.
With Jiao’s encouragement, Wang renews his studies. Soon, his journey financed by his wife’s private savings, he is ready to head to the capital to sit the imperial exams for a second time. As the couple are about to part, Jiao implores Wang to keep the jade pendant she has given him safely in his possession. Pledging to do as she asks, Wang swears his loyalty to her.
This time Wang places first in the exams and his success open doors for him in the capital. Becoming greedy for power and wealth, he forgets his pledge to Jiao and marries into the family of a high-ranking minister. With his status now secure, Wang instructs the delivery of 100 catties of silver and a certificate of divorce to the wife he has abandoned. When Jiao learns what has happened, she is incensed. Visiting the sea temple where they pledged their oaths to one another, she tearfully swears to exact her revenge …
Cast: Lai Qiongxia (Winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre)
“Praising the Peonies” from An Oath of Eternal Love in the Tang Palace
Tang dynasty emperor Li Longji, also known as Xuanzong, is deeply in love with his imperial consort Yang Guifei or Lady Yang. During spring each year, being a connoisseur of flowers, the emperor would take Lady Yang to Chenxiang Pavilion to admire the peony blossoms. Such was his enthusiasm that the emperor would also summon the famed scholar Li Bai to compose poems and music to mark the occasion and celebrate the beauty of Lady Yang.
Death in the Shrine
Set during the last days of the Western Han dynasty, this story of intrigue and revenge tells how lust for power brings tragedy to two generations of rival families.
After initiating a coup to usurp the Han emperor, government official Wang Mang orders the death of those unwilling to join his court. Meeting resistance from Liu’s loyal general Wu, Wang Mang strikes him down himself. But before Wu breathes his last breath, he tells his wife to change her name, take their son into hiding and wait for a chance to exact revenge.
Eighteen years later, Wu’s child, Wu Han, with no knowledge of the cause of his father’s death, has become a soldier in Wang Mang’s army. Impressed by his skill and loyalty, Wang offers him his daughter princess Wang Lanying as his wife. No longer able to keep her terrible secret, Wu Han’s mother tearfully recounts the details of their family tragedy. Handing him his father’s sword, and imploring him to avenge her husband’s death by killing Lanying and Wang and restoring the Han court, she takes her own life. Devasted, Wu Han goes to his wife who is reading devotions in the family shrine and confesses what has unfolded. Learning of her father’s sins and seeing Wu Han’s hesitation, Lanying seizes her husband’s sword …
17 March 2019 (Sunday)
Grand Theatre, Xiqu Centre
Regional languages with Chinese and English surtitles
(852) 2200 0022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets now on sale