Gezi Opera is a vernacular form of theatre that first gained popularity in Yilan in northeastern Taiwan. Its musical
origin was the short songs brought to the region by early settlers from Zhangzhou, Fujian of the Mainland. Later
the songs were combined with local ballads and narrative singing to come into their own. The earliest local genre
was ‘luodisao’ - playlets with song and dance performed in parades for temple fairs, and sung with a natural
voice in the local dialect of Hokkien. Later, it incorporated the vernacular theatre of Siping Opera, Liyuan Opera,
Gaojia Opera, Luantan (or Beiguan Opera) and Chiu Chow Opera to become a genre typically staged in temples
to ‘entertain’ the gods. With incorporation of the more integrative elements of Peking Opera, it evolved further
into ‘indoor Gezi Opera’ staged in city theatres.
Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company is currently one of the most distinguished Gezi Opera troupes in Taiwan with a strong and impressive cast. The founder, Tang Mei-yun, comes from a family of Gezi Opera actors, and is known for her handsome stage persona and superb singing and acting. The Princess and the Hunter, in which she is atypically cast in a ‘military male’ role, has enjoyed enduring popularity. Love on Pregnancy, which features the ‘golden triumvirate’ Tang Mei-yun, Hsu Hsiu-nien and Xiao Mi, explores the yearning, struggle and compromise in human nature – a serious theme that is presented in a comedic format. It will be a gratifying experience for the actors and satisfying theatre for the audience.
Life in the palace has long bored Princess Ling Feng. With the help of her maid Yue Ling, the two disguise themselves as men and sneak out of the palace. During the arduous journey, both of Princess and the maid are injured. They bump into a young hunter, Ou Jinglong, on a mountain path and receive treatment at his house. Little do they know that Jinglong’s mother has seen through their disguise after noticing Yue Ling’s excellent embroidery skills. Then Princess Ling Feng receives news that the Empress is ill and that the Emperor has ordered a search for her. The Princess leaves a goodbye note for Jinglong. With his mother’s encouragement, Jinglong journeys to the capital to undertake the Imperial Examinations in the hope of seeing Ling Feng again. In the capital, Jinglong passes the Imperial Examinations. He is named the ‘top scholar’, and chosen as the Emperor’s son-in-law. Not knowing that the top scholar is in fact the man she lover, Princess Ling Feng resists the marriage. On the wedding night, while Princess Ling Feng discovers that her husband is in fact the man she loves, Jinglong fails to recognize the veiled Princess who argues with him is Ling Feng. Eventually, Jinglong confesses that he cannot forget a woman called ‘Ling Feng’ and begs the Princess to denounce the marriage. Upon hearing this, Princess removes her veil to reveal her face and the couple is united in bliss.
The Princess and the Hunter was written in 2000. For more than 10 years, it is still a popular work to audiences’ liking. Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company has been redefining Taiwanese opera to reflect a newly modern Taiwanese culture. In doing so, Tang Mei Yun hopes to invigorate the folk art of Taiwanese opera, enrich the Taiwanese cultural vision, as well as ensure Taiwanese opera’s place in the world of the performing arts.
Cast: Tang Mei Yun, Hsu Hsiu-nien, Xiao Mi, Wu Ming-chih
Young magistrate Zhikuan loved his wife Yulian very much but Yulian failed to bear any child after three years of marriage. His mother thus forced Zhikuan to divorce her and remarry. Zhikuan was unwilling to do so and went to pray in the temple. He met a blind and dumb couple carrying their newborn child there. Pursued by greed, he stole the baby and asked his wife to lie with him saying the baby was theirs. Since then they got entangled in a series of subsequent lies and lived dangerously. When learning the story of a beggar losing his child from his cousin, Zhikuan was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Finally he returned the baby to its rightful parent.
Love on Pregnancy is the first play directed and performed by Tang Mei-yun where ‘performers would totally commit and audience fully enjoy’. Performed by the solid triangle of Tang Mei-yun, Hsu Hsiu-nien and Xiao Mi, the play takes the audience to journey into the interior world of the characters to explore the desire, struggle and compromise of human nature.
Cast: Tang Mei Yun, Hsu Hsiu-nien, Xiao Mi, Lin Fang-yi
A graduate of the Performing Arts College of Taiwan specializing in the sheng role, Lin is the younger generation actress of the company. While still in school, she has toured to the U.S., France and Singapore to perform traditional operatic works and join various companies’ performances. Her representative works include Resurrection, Love on Pregnancy, Fame and Fortune, Taming of the Princess, Story of the West Chamber and others.