Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei Xue Pinggui Returning to His Humble Abode Pei YanlingPeking Opera Research Centre of Hebei The Showdown at Cuiping Mountain Zhang Huimin (left),Pei Yanling (right)Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei Seeking Shelter for His Son from The Beauty Washing Silk by the River Pei Yanling (left), Yang Hanru (Guest) (right)Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei The Drunken Wu Song Beats up Jiang Zhong Zhang Xiyue(left), Pei Yanling (right)Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei The Drunken Wu Song Beats up Jiang Zhong Pei YanlingPeking Opera Research Centre of Hebei  Xue Pinggui Testing His Wife  Liang Weiling (left), Li Weizhong (right)Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei Exploring the Art of Chinese Traditional Theatre Pei Yanling (middle), Gong Haizhong (right)Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei Exploring the Art of Chinese Traditional Theatre Pei Yanling (left), Gong Haizhong (right)

Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei

Pei Yanling, esteemed “a true treasure of China and humankind” for her galactic virtuosity in traditional theatre, will open the 5th Chinese Opera Festival with aplomb. She will be bringing the premium cast of Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei to present four famous traditional excerpts featuring classics in Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera. Each evening’s ‘double bill’ performance will include one ‘civil’ and one ‘military’ play to enable the audience to perceive the diversity of Chinese opera as well as Pei’s versatility and true virtuosity in her chosen art form. In the guided performance entitled Exploring the Art of Chinese Traditional Theatre, Pei will command the stage by her mere presence as a seasoned actor. With no stage make-up, operatic costume or sets, she will give the most honest reveal of how she interprets the iconic roles she has created throughout her career. The audience of Hong Kong is in for treat as they explore with Pei the many aspects of Chinese opera.

20 June (Fri)7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Excerpts

Promoting to High Officialdom

Promoting to High Officialdom is an opening ceremony for large-scale Chinese operas. The present performance features mainly the ‘Civilian God of Fortune’ and the ‘Military God of Fortune’. Most of the characters are portrayed by actors who play the sheng (male) roles. The actors follow unique dance routines as they dance, jump and pose different postures using exaggerated body movements and footwork to present auspicious words written on banners to greet and express good wishes to the audience.

cast An Daha, Zhang Xiyue


The Boundary Pass

A well-known traditional martial play that emphasizes combats and stunts. This piece requires excellent acrobatic skills such as making somersaults, fighting, falling and pouncing from its actors. In this performance, Zhang Xin, clad in a changkao (full armour), will demonstrate the combat routines in a battle scene. He is followed by Zhang Yabin who will appear in a duanda (short and tight fitting clothes with or without weapon).

Tang emperor Tai Zong sends Qin Huiyu to lead an army to subdue the invaders from the west. When the troops arrive at Boundary Pass, Qin is confronted by Su Baotong, the general who guards the Pass. Qin is wounded by Su’s spear. Luo Tong in turn defeats Su, who then sends Wang Banchao to fight with Luo. Seeing that Wang is an old man, Luo underestimates him, but Luo is forced to engage in endless combat as Wang sends his warriors to fight with him in turns. Wang seizes an opportunity and pieces a spear into Luo’s belly causing his guts to run out. Luo keeps on fighting even though he is suffering great pain. His son Luo Zhang comes to his rescue and slays Wang, but it was too late to save the life of his father.

cast Zhang Xin, Zhang Yabin, Wu Yueze, Liu Yibo


Seeking Shelter for His Son from The Beauty Washing Silk by the River

Kunqu Opera is known for its singing and recitation. Lyrics in this play are elegant, refined and expressive. Its music blends smoothly and naturally with the story of the opera.

Loyal official Wu Zixu risks his own life and those of his clan members trying to remonstrate with Emperor Wu. To protect his son, Wu sends him to take refuge in the home of Bao Shu, a high-ranking official of the Kingdom of Qi. On their way to Qi, father and son, touched by the sights they see, express their sadness of separation in antiphonal singing. Though reluctant to part, they finally bid farewell to each other in tears.

cast Pei Yanling, Yang Hanru (Guest), An Daha


Borrowing the Fan

With a sword in both of her hands, the Princess of Iron Fan engages in a dual with the Monkey King. Through his playful and lively hand gestures and body movements, the actor who acts as the Monkey King brings the character to life on stage.

Blocked by the Flaming Mountain during their pilgrimage to the west, Tang monk Xuanzang and his three disciples try to borrow the magical Iron Fan from the Princess of Iron Fan to put out the flames of the mountain. After settling his master in a safe place, the Monkey King went to the Bajiao Cave to find the Princess. She is the wife of Bull King and the mother of Red Boy. Enmity developed between her and the Monkey King as a result of the Red Boy trying to eat the flesh of Xuanzang before. The Princess therefore is unwilling to lend her fan to the Monkey King. When Monkey King approaches her for the first time, the Princess uses her magical fan to generate a powerful wind that blows him far far away.

cast Wei Jianping, Song Xiaohua


The Showdown at Cuiping Mountain

In this play, singing, recitation, acting and combat by the wusheng (martial male) and huadan (young female) are equally emphasized. The wusheng who plays the part of Shi Xiu has to sing the set tune Xi Pi San Yan in full in its original form - hence this is regarded as a repertoire for the ‘wusheng virtuoso’. Pei Yanling’s performance is uniquely exquisite in portraying a man of integrity, courage and righteousness. Her voice is powerful and breathtaking. When she plays the liuhe sword routines, the audience can feel the murderous atmosphere on stage.

Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu are sworn brothers. Under the instructions of Yang, Shi opens a butchery. Yang’s wife Pan Qiaoyun has an illicit affair with the monk Pei Ruhai. Knowing that, Shi exposes their affairs to Yang. Yang goes home heavily drunk, and when he questions Pan, she and her maid Yinger frame Shi as the adulterer. Believing in his wife’s words, Yang breaks off his relations with Shi who then leaves in anger. After getting drunk, Shi goes to kill Pei Ruhai. By that time, Yang realizes that his wife has lied and he makes a plan to entice Pan and her maid to come to Cuiping Mountain to find out the truth. After Pan’s admission to her infidelity, Shi urges Yang to kill Pan.

cast Pei Yanling, Zhang Huimin, Gong Haizhong, Zhang Yunsheng, An Daha
21 June (Sat)7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Excerpts

The Melon Stealer

A work that features the wuchou (comic military male). Tao Hong, the main character, is played by a wuchou whose unique appearance and singing in Shanxi Bongzi bring a refreshing presentation to the audience.

Zheng Ziming is an oil peddler. One day he passes by Tao Hong’s manor and he picks some melons that are growing inside it. Tao’s maid finds out and reports it to Tao’s daughter San Chun who then engages in a fight with Zheng. When Tao Hong arrives, Zheng takes him lightly as Tao is crippled and old. Surprisingly, Zheng is defeated by Tao. Admiring Zheng’s bravity, Tao betroths his daughter to him.

cast Wei Jianping, Wu Yueze, Song Xiaohua, Zhou Chunxia


Xue Pinggui Returning to His Humble Abode

An excerpt from The Stallion with the Red Mane played by wulaosheng (old military male) dressed in zakou (full armour) and qingyi (blue-robed female). It emphasizes both singing and acting. Through their refined performance, the story tells the sorrow and plight of a loving couple who faces immediate separation.

After his marriage, Xue Pinggui is promoted as the rear-guard of the army in recognition that he has subdued the stallion with the red mane. But Wang Yun complained about Xue before the emperor, and Xue was demoted to being an advance-guard under the command of Wang’s second son-in-law Wei Hu, and was sent to fight in Xiliang. Xue goes home to bid farewell to his beloved wife Wang Baochuan.

cast Pei Yanling, Zhang Huimin


Nazha’s Cosmic Hoops

This is a wawasheng (infant male) repertoire that emphasizes the physical actions of its actors. In it, the wusheng handles a large hoop and a long silk ribbon while singing and reciting.

In Qianyuan Mountain, Nazha’s arrow inadvertently wounds a female immortal who is a disciple of the goddess Shiji. When the goddess rebukes Nazha, a fight between the two breaks out and Nazha is defeated.

cast Xie Han, Zhang Lifang, Song Xiaohua


The Drunken Wu Song Beats up Jiang Zhong

This story is based on chapter eighteen of The Water Margin written by Shi Neian during the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty. It is a traditional martial play and a bravura repertoire of Pei Yanling in the duanda wusheng (martial male wearing short and tight fitting costume and fighting with a short weapon) role. Pei once said, “Other actors who play Wu Song are neatly dressed, whereas I am dressed with one of my shoulders exposed.”. Her vivid portrayal and nimble movements earn her the honour of ‘the living Wu Song’.

Wu Song is sent to a prison in Mengzhou. Shi En, the son of the prison guard Shi Zhong, admires Wu and they become sworn brothers. Shi En’s guest house is forcibly taken over by a villain named Jiang Zhong. Hearing this, the drunken and angry Wu Song hurries himself to the wood to find Jiang. He beats him up and reclaims the guest house for his sworn brother.

cast Pei Yanling, Zhang Xiyue, Zhang Yunsheng, Gong Haizhong, Tong Xin, An Daha
22 June (Sun)7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

ExcerptsXue Pinggui Testing His Wife

An excerpt from The Stallion with the Red Mane. It is a signature piece for laosheng (elderly male) and qingyi. Qingyi is known for her graceful appearance on stage, and the actress who plays this role must be good at singing and acting.

Wang Baochuan was born into a noble family, but she married a poor man named Xue Pinggui. She lives in a dilapidated cave dwelling for eighteen years after her husband left her for the battlefield. In desperation, she writes a letter with her blood and sends it to her husband by a carrier goose. On receiving the letter, Xue bids farewell to the princess of Xiliang and goes back to Changan. By chance, he encounters his wife at Wujiabo. After separating for eighteen years, they cannot recognize each other. Unsure if the woman before him is his wife, Xue dares not reveal his identity to her. Instead, he tests her by pretending that he has lost his way. Though impoverished, Wang maintains her fidelity and runs back to her cave dwelling. Xue follows and tells her everything. Husband and wife finally reunite.

cast Liang Weiling, Li Weizhong


Exploring the Art of Chinese Traditional Theatre

Where does traditional Chinese opera originate? What is its essence? Without wearing any make-up or costume, Pei Yanling will demonstrate in this workshop four excerpts from the wusheng repertoire of Kunqu. They include Lin Chong’s Nocturnal Escape, Shi Xiu Visiting the Fort, Nazha’s Cosmic Hoops and On Centipede Range. She will sing four versions of the set tune Xin Shui Ling to illustrate the uniqueness of the four male characters: Lin Chong, Shi Xiu, Nazha and Wu Song. She will also demonstrate the singing technique used in the Peking Opera Stealing His Father’s Remains from Hongyang Cave. Through her demonstrations and explanations, Pei Yanling will unfold the essence of the art of Peking and Kunqu Operas, and will lead the audience to explore the origin of traditional Chinese operas with her artistic knowledge.

cast Pei Yanling, An Daha, Gong Haizhong

Pei Yanling

A renowned artist in Chinese opera and a National Class One Performer, and is currently the Director of the Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei. Born into a family of artists in Chinese theatre, Pei started her career on stage since the age of five and played leading roles since she was nine. She is known for her virtuosity in a wide variety of roles in both ‘civilian’ and ‘military’ repertoires in Peking Opera, Kunqu Opera and Clapper Opera. She is hailed as a ‘National Treasure’ and has won the Grand Prize of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre and the Magnolia Award for Special Contribution to Theatre Performing Arts. Her signature works, The Magic Lotus Lantern, Nazha Wreaking Havoc in the Sea, Zhong Kui the Ghost-eater and The Story of the Actor Xiang Jiuxiao have been made into films. Pei is now the vice-chairman of the Chinese Federation of Literary and Art Circles and the vice-chairman of the China Theatre Association.



Liang Weiling

National Class One Performer and the winner of the 17th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre. She specializes in qingyi and huashan (flower-robed female) roles. She has received tutelage from the renowned artists Qi Lanqiu, He Junying, Luo Weilan and Liu Xiuying, and was a student of Peking Opera artist Zhang Chunqiu. Liang sings with a clear and melodious voice and acts with an exquisite and vivid touch. Her signature pieces include The Stallion with the Red Mane, The Legend of the White Snake and The Drunken Beauty.



Zhang Huimin

National Class One Performer and the winner of the 22nd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre. Graduated from Hebei Arts School, specializing in huadan and guimendan (unmarried female) roles. She has studied under well-known artists such as Li Yanqiu, Qi Lanqiu, Liu Shuwen, Zhou Changyuan and Wang Dexin before becoming the student of the renowned Xun style performer Song Changrong. She has won the Class One Award for Performance at the 5th and 7th Theatre Festival of Hebei Province and the Class One Award for Theatre Theories at the 7th Hebei Hundred Flowers Award for Theatre.



Zhang Yunsheng

National Class One Performer, specializes in civilian and military sanhualian (comic male) roles and a graduate of the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. He has received training from Wang Ronghan, Wang Lianping and Geng Qingwu. His recitation is clear and resonant, and he excels in both civilian and military roles. His repertoire includes Fishing the Turtle, Running away from the Nunnery, The Story of Jin Yunu and At the Crossroad.



Yang Hanru (Guest)

Master of Fine Arts from the Graduate Institute of Theatre Performance and Playwriting of the Taipei University of the Arts. She received further training from the Kunqu Impartation Project and Yue Meiti Kunqu Jinsheng Arts Class. She has received training from Pei Yanling, Yue Meiti, Cai Zhengren, Ji Zhenhua and Wang Shiyu. She is a founding member and the artistic director of the 1/2Q Theatre, also an artist specializing in male roles in the Shuimo Kun Opera Troupe and the Taiwan Kunqu Opera Theatre. For four times, the experimental Kunqu Operas with Yang as the main cast have been selected as one of the Ten Outstanding Performances of the Year in the Taishin Arts Award; and Peach Blossom Rain has won the 11th Taishin Arts Award.



An Daha

Winner of an Outstanding Performance Award at the 2nd Theatre Festival of Hebei Province, a Performance Award at the 3rd and 6th Theatre Festival of Hebei Province, the 7th Hebei Hundred Flowers Award for Theatre, and a Class One Award at the Hebei Hundred Flowers Award for Theatre. His outstanding repertoire includes Stop the Horse, At the Crossroad, Lin Chong’s Nocturnal Escape and Subduing the Leopard Monster.



Gong Haizhong

After studying under Zhang Shaochun in Hebei Arts School, he went to the Shanghai Theatre Academy to further his training. His repertoire includes Xue Pinggui Testing His Wife, The Ruse of Empty City, Twice Entering the Imperial Palace and new Peking Operas The Story of the Actor Xiang Jiuxiao and Empress Dowager’s Other Stories.



Zhang Xiyue

National Class One Performer, specializes in wusheng roles. He has received tutelage from Guo Jingchun, Pei Yanling and Gai Yueqiao. His repertoire includes The Pulley, Fighting with Ma Chao, Subduing Gao Deng at the Yanyang Pavilion and The Suicide of Tang Huai.



Wei Jianping

Graduate of Hebei Arts School, specializes in wuchou roles. He received training from the well known wuchou artists Zhang Shaohua in Stealing the Armour, Stealing the Silver Kettle, Borrowing the Fan and The Melon Stealer. He has won a Class Two Performers Award at the 1st Red Plum Awards for Chinese Traditional Theatre and Outstanding Performance Award at the Hebei Young Performers in Chinese Theatre Contest.



Li Weizhong

Specializes in laosheng (elderly male) roles. His teachers include Xu Baozhong, Zhang Shaochun, Shen Chunlin, Zhu Yuankun, Yang Naipeng and Zhang Rongpei. He has won a Class Two Performers Award in Hebei District at the 1st Red Plum Awards for Chinese Traditional Theatre, a Class One Performers Award at the 7th Heibei Hundred Flowers Award for Theatre and the Screen Award at the 6th National Young Peking Opera Performer TV Contest.



Xie Han

Graduate of Jilin Arts School and a student of the renowned artist Pei Yanling, specializes in wusheng roles. She has performed in Nazha’s Cosmic Hoops, At the White Beach, Wu Wenhua the Despot and Lin Chong’s Nocturnal Escape.



Zhang Xin

He has appeared in Burning Pei Yuanqing Alive, The Boundary Pass and Jiaxing House. He has won a Class Two Performers Award at the 2nd Hebei Young Performers in Chinese Theatre Contest and a Class Two Performers Award at the 3rd Wenzhou Arts Festival and the 11th Wenzhou Theatre Festival.

Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei

The Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei originates from Jizhong Experimental Theatre founded in 1945. In 1953, the Theatre was renamed as Hebei Peking Opera Troupe. In 1960, it became the Jingkun Theatre of Hebei after merging with Hebei Kunqu Opera Theatre. In 1994, it changed its name to Peking Opera Theatre of Hebei; and in 2013, it adopted its present name. Since its establishment, the company has been graced by outstanding artists such as Song Dezhu, one of the ‘Four Famous Young Dan’, and the renowned Yang Ronghuan, Guan Shengxi and Ma Youliang. Over the years, the company has distinguished itself with an array of talented artists versatile in all sorts of roles in a wide variety of repertoires. In 2008, under the leadership of its present director, the renowned Pei Yanling, the company presented the new opera The Story of the Actor Xiang Jiuxiao. The awards the company has received include Outstanding Opera Award in the 11th Chinese Theatre Festival, Special Prize in the 13th Wenhua Award for Performance, a Special Prize at the 10th Hebei Spiritual Progress Best Works Award, and the Hebei Cultural Development Best Works Award. In 2009/2010, the Company received special funding through the National Theatrical Art Quality Improvement Project to further develop its repertoire. The company has toured the United States, Canada, France, Japan, Denmark, Singapore, Africa, Taiwan and Hong Kong, winning popular acclaims wherever it went.

20–22 June (Fri – Sun)7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

STAGE

Ticket Price  $420 $320 $220 $120

  • With Chinese and English surtitles
  • Each performance lasts approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.


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