Huangmei Opera is also known as Caichaxi (tea-picking opera). It originated from Anqing, which sits at the
junction of three provinces – Hubei, Anhui and Jiangxi. Later it assimilated qingyangqiang, folk songs, the
performing techniques of Anhui Opera and other operatic genres to come into its own. The vernacular origin
lends a natural, vivacious charm to its performances. The lyrical singing and the use of everyday language make
it easy to learn to sing. All these qualities make Huangmei Opera particularly appealing to the younger audience.
Many years ago, the Huangmei Opera film The Seventh Fairy Maiden produced by the Huangmei Opera Theatre of Anhui had taken Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia by storm. It was so popular that many people in Hong Kong can still remember it today. For this year’s Festival, the cast of the Theatre – Wu Yaling, Li Wen, Jiang Jianguo, Yu Shun, Sun Juan etc. – will recreate on stage such classics as The Seventh Fairy Maiden and The Female Consort of the Princess, and the audience will be able to revisit the mellifluous singing that made Huangmei Opera such a huge success.
Seventh Heavenly Maiden, the youngest daughter of the Jade Emperor of Heaven, is bored with the solitude in the heaven. One day, she comes to the heavenly bridge with her elder sisters to take a look at the human world when she sees Dong Yong, an impoverished young man who is to sell himself to the landlord to bury his father. Attracted by the honest young man, she flees down daringly to the human world in defiance of her father’s authority, and marries Dong Yong, who has already become a serf, with the help of the local God. However, the cruel and avaricious landlord asserts that the couple’s marriage violates the contract between Dong and him, and threatens to extend the indenture years from three to six unless the couple can produce ten rolls of silk overnight. He also boasts disdainfully that if he sees the silk in the next morning, the contract period will be shortened into one hundred days. The Maiden fulfils the seemingly impossible task by asking her six elder sisters for help and defeats the landlord’s trick. The landlord keeps his promise unwillingly, and Dong Yong gains his freedom after one hundred days. Unfortunately, as the couple is leaving to set up their own home, the Jade Emperor has noticed his daughter’s fleeing and forces her to go back to the heaven. To protect Dong Yong from being hurt by her furious father, the Maiden has to bid a painful farewell to her husband.
The Seventh Fairy Maiden marked a monumental step in the history of Huangmei Opera's development. It has become a hit immediately after its birth both at home and abroad, and many melodious arias have long been an everlasting attraction for generations of Huangmei Opera fans. The play was first staged in Anqing City by Anhui Huangmei Opera Troupe, and later the troupe was invited to give a performance at East China's Opera Festival. The script of the play won a first award, and Yan Fengying who played the role of Seventh Heavenly Maiden, and Wang Shaofang, who played the role of Dong Yong, both won the first prize of performance. In 1955, the play was made into a film, which not only won great popularity all over Chinese mainland, but also became a fashion in Hong Kong.
Main Cast: Li Wen, Yu Shun
Feng Suzhen has been engaged to Li Zhaoting in her childhood. Unfortunately, Family Li meets with decline and Li Zhaoting decides to lodge himself to Feng’s residence, but is rejected by Feng Suzhen’s snobbish parents. Worse still, to break the engagement and plot a lucrative marriage for Suzhen, her parents even bring a false charge against Li Zhaoting with steal. He is put into prison and Suzhen is forced to marry an heir of a wealthy family. She does not submit herself to the arrangement by dressing up as a young man and running away from her hometown. In the capital, she participates in the national examination by assuming her fiancé, Li Zhaoting’s name. Unexpectedly, she earns the title of Number One Scholar and impresses the Emperor so much that he intends to make her his son-in-law. Suzhen tries to refuse the order again and again but fails. She has to receive the demand and go to the palace to get married with the princess. On the wedding night, Suzhen tells the princess of the truth at risk of death. Deeply moved by Suzhen’s devotedness to her fiancé, the princess offers her aid to inform her father of the fact. Due to Suzhen’s intelligence, she not only gets the pardon from the Emperor for herself, but also makes her fiancé released. At the same time, Suzhen’s brother named Feng Yimin, a former Number One Scholar, comes to the royal court to beg the Emperor’s pardon for his sister, falls in love with the princess at first sight, and is chosen as the Emperor’s real son-in-law. From then on, the two couples lead their happy life.
Cast: Sun Juan, Wu Yaling, Jiang Jianguo
Sun Juan is a National Class One Performer and a graduate from the Anhui Provincial Academy for Performing Arts. Her stage persona conveys the female elegance, and she sings in sweet tone. She has won many performance awards, including a Gold Award at the 1st Yan Fengying Cup Huangmei Opera Competition, the Award for Top Ten Outstanding Performers at the Anhui Provincial Yellow Mountain Cup Competition for Young Performers in Huangmei Opera, a Gold Award for Performing Arts at Anqing Municipal Festival for Huangmei Opera, and the Award at the National Red Plum Blossom Cup Competition for Theatre. She is known for her portrayal of the Seventh Fairy Maiden in The Seventh Fairy Maiden, Feng Suzhen in The Female Consort of the Princess, Little Qiao in Qiao Sisters and Wang Xifeng in A Dream of Red Mansions.