Cantonese opera went through a drastic evolution during the early decades of the 20th century. Inspired by the modernisation of Peking opera carried out by Maestro Mei Lan-fang (1894–1961), Cantonese opera artists began to emulate the makeup and dressing process of Peking opera and to incorporate the cosmetics used in Western film. By means of photographic illustrations, this talk introduces the face painting process of the leading female and male roles; how face-painting patterns symbolise different character types; the fitting of wigs, hairpins and headgear; the dressing process for operatic costumes; and how costumes contribute to the portrayal of different personages within an opera.

16 January 2018 (Tuesday)

7:30pm – 8:45pm

HKU SPACE - Admiralty Learning Centre (Rm 204 & 206, 2/F, Admiralty Centre, 18 Harcourt Road, Hong Kong - Exit A, Admiralty MTR Station)

Prof Chan Sau-yan


Free admission. Limited capacity on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register online in advance.


Limited seats are available at the venue. Seats will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Participants who cannot be seated in Rm 204 will be assigned seats in Rm 206 at the same venue to watch a live relay of the talk.

Ms Leung (852) 2200 0872,

Accessibility Services:
Live audio description and sign language interpretation are available upon request with at least 14 days’ advance notice. Please contact: (852) 2200 0872 /

Adverse Weather Arrangements:
If Typhoon Signal No. 8 or above or Black Rainstorm Warning is in force at 3pm and onwards, or if an announcement is made by the Hong Kong Observatory that the Typhoon Signal No. 8 or above is likely to be issued at 3pm or onwards, the talk will be cancelled or rescheduled.

Programme Partner:

About Speaker:

Prof Chan Sau-yan

Prof Chan Sau-yan read music and philosophy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong before embarking on doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Professors Bell Yung and Deane Root. He taught at the Music Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1987 to 2007, where he founded the Cantonese Opera Research Programme and Chinese Opera Information Centre, and served as Associate Director of University General Education. He recently returned to Hong Kong after a seven-year stay in Wales, where he learned Welsh folk dance and creative writing. He is the author and editor of twenty academic books on the musical structure, performance practice, ethnographic and historical aspects of Cantonese opera, including Improvisation in a Ritual Context: The Music of Cantonese Opera (Chinese University Press, 1991). At present, he is a writer-cum-researcher.

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