The story takes place in Shangyu of Zhejiang Province. Zhu Yingtai disguises herself as a young man to go to Hangzhou to study. There she meets Liang Shanbo in class. They grow so fond of each other that they become sworn brothers. Three years pass by, and Yingtai receives a letter from her father who urges her to return. The two find it hard to part, so Shanbo accompanies Yingtai for miles and miles. On the way, Yingtai time and again drops clues to make Shanbo understand that she already regards him as a partner for life, but he fails to get the hint. Yingtai cannot but tell him that ‘he’ has a sister at home and would like to marry her to Shanbo. If he is willing, he should send a matchmaker with the betrothal gifts early to her home. On returning home, Yingtai finds out that her father has arranged for her to marry Ma Wencai, son of the Prefect, for the reason that he is a good match. On the other hand, Shanbo happily discovers that Yingtai’s ‘sister’ is none other than Yingtai herself, so he comes to see her at home. When the lovers meet again in Yingtai’s chamber, Shanbo hears the devastating news that she is already betrothed to the Ma family. They cry bitter tears before they part. But Shanbo is so distressed that he soon falls ill and dies. On hearing the sad news, Yingtai puts on mourning clothes and visits Shanbo’s grave. A storm suddenly comes up, the tomb opens, and Yingtai jumps in. Their spirits turn into two butterflies that would stay together always.
- Peking Opera Research Centre of Hebei
- Four Stylistic Schools of Xiaosheng Roles in Yue Opera
- A New Cantonese Opera Investigation to Redress a Wrong
- Reverberating Notes from South China Highlights of the Eight Classic Pieces
- Zhejiang Yongjia Kunqu Opera Troupe
- Yunnan Dian Opera Theatre
- Experimental Theatre of Liyuan Opera of Fujian
- Haifeng Baizi Opera Troupe of Guangdong
- No.2 Troupe of Yu Opera Theatre of Henan
- Jingkun Theatre
Four Stylistic Schools of Xiaosheng Roles
in Yue Opera
In Yue Opera (also known as “Shaoxing Opera”), the vocal styles of actors in xiaosheng (young male roles) can be categorized into four main schools after the four legendary stars: Yin Guifang, Fan Ruijuan, Xu Yulan and Lu Jinhua. For this year’s Festival, four representative xiaosheng actors in Yue Opera – Zhao Zhigang, Wu Fenghua, Zhang Xiaojun and Xu Biaoxin – will partner some of the best dan (female roles) actors to present gems in Yue Opera: The Butterfly Lovers, Southeast the Peacock Flies, Seeking out His Wife at the Mulberry Orchard and Fortune-telling, The Dream of the Red Chamber, Fang Qing Visits His Aunt and more. It is a star-studded occasion and a sumptuous feast for Yue Opera fans.
25 June (Wed)
26 June (Thu)
27 June (Fri)
28 June (Sat)
29 June (Sun)
The Butterfly Lovers
|cast||Wu Fenghua, Zhao Zhigang, Zhang Xiaojun, Xu Biaoxin, Chen Fei, Wu Suying, Chen Shi, Yu Weiping, Pan Qin|
Fang Qing Visits His Aunt from The Pearl Pagoda
The story opens with a birthday banquet at the Imperial Commissioner of Xiangyang’s residence. His Excellency’s wife, Fang Duohua, is a snob, and likes to flaunt her status and wealth. It happens that her nephew, Fang Qing, whose family has fallen into hard times, comes to ask for a loan so that he can go to the capital to attend the civil examination. But Duohua is not one to remember what care and concern she had received from Qing’s family when she was down and out. Instead, she slings insult upon insult on Qing, and orders him to leave. Qing is a filial son, and honours his promise to his mother that he would not retort despite the fact that his aunt is such a vain snob. Before he leaves, he vows that he would not appear before her again unless he has plucked the laurels in the civil examination.
|cast||Xu Biaoxin, Pan Qin|
Seeking Vengeance from Trials of Love
Wang Kui is a scholar who has failed in the national civil examination in the capital. Unable to take the long journey home, he is in dire straits when Jiao Guiying, a famous courtesan, finds him and takes him in. She supports him in his studies, and later the two are married. But when Kui plucks the laurels at the civil examination in the capital this time, he has a change of heart. He marries the daughter of the Prime Minister and sends Guiying a letter of annulment, seeking to divorce her. Guiying is devastated and with nowhere to turn to, she goes to the Temple of the God of the Sea where the two of them had made their pledge never to part two years ago. She makes an invocation to the God and tearful accuses Kui of his infidelity and heartlessness before she hangs herself. The Judge in Hell accepts Guiying’s plaint, goes with her spirit to the capital to catch Kui alive.
Burying Flowers from The Dream of the Red Chamber
Lin Daiyu has lost her mother at a young age, and has to take up residence at her maternal grandmother’s place. There she grows up with her cousin, Jia Baoyu, and the two are very much in love. When Baoyu receives a hard beating from his father for having befriended a young actor, Daiyu goes to visit him in his chamber, only to be unwittingly turned away by his maid. Outside his door, she happens to see Baoyu seeing Baochai, another cousin, out. She mistakes that to be Baoyu’s intention not to accept her and is heartbroken. Now it is late spring, and when she sees the falling petals, she feels that she is seeing her pitiable self, homeless, drifting, and unloved. So she decides to get a hoe to dig a grave for the fallen petals. Baoyu traces Daiyu to the garden and pours his heart out.
|cast||Chen Xiaohong, Zhang Xiaojun|
At the Study from The Aloeswood Fan
A young scholar Xu Wenxiu meets Cai Lanying, the daughter of a high official of the imperial court. It is love at first sight. In his urge to see her again, Wenxiu sells himself into the Cai's Residence as a slave. The two finally meet after two weeks, and become secretly betrothed. But their affair has come to the attention of Lanying’s mother, who marries her to another. Lanying refuses to accept the arranged marriage and leaves home disguised as a man. She attends the same national civil examination as Wenxiu, and comes third while Wenxiu comes top. Not knowing the situation behind all these, Lanying’s father gives her to the scholar who has come second in the examination. It is a hilarious situation of three top scholars vying for one wife. Later, with the assistance of Wenxiu’s uncle, the young lovers are finally reunited in Lanying’s study, and the two enter into wedlock.
|cast||Wu Fenghua, Wu Suying|
Chen Sanliang Tortured in a Trial from A Pure Spirit
The story takes place in the Ming Dynasty. Li Suping’s father was framed by the corrupt eunuch, Liu Jin, because he refused to bribe him. In order to give her father a proper burial and to raise her younger brother Fengming, Suping sells herself to a pimp. But she refuses to become a prostitute, vowing instead to pay for her debt by sheer academic excellence. She sells her poems and prose for three taels of silver per piece, so she gives herself a new name, Chen Sanliang (‘sanliang’ meaning ‘three taels’ in Chinese). When she and her brother are separated by an unfortunate chance, she adopts Chen Kui, whose family has fallen victim to Liu’s treacherous manoeuvrings. Chen Kui attends the national civil examination and comes top, which is followed by an appointment as an Imperial Commissioner. Back home, Sanliang is being sold to an old man, Zhang Zichun, as wife. When she refuses to comply, she is tied up and forced to go to Cangzhou. Zhang bribes the prefect, so Sanliang is tortured in an unfair trial. To everybody’s surprise, this corrupt prefect is none other than the younger brother, Fengming, whom she has not seen for ten years. At this juncture, Chen Kui the new Imperial Commissioner arrives on his inspection rounds. Sanliang turns her own brother in, and requests Chen to punish him according to the law in the hope that this would make a new man out of him.
|cast||Chen Shi, Zhao Zhigang, Xu Biaoxin|
Southeast the Peacock Flies
The story takes place in the 3rd Century, during the Eastern Han period. Jiao Zhongqing is a petty officer in Anhui and newly married to Liu Lanzhi. The two win the admiration of friends and neighbours for being such a fine match, so much so that they are dubbed a pair of peacocks. But Lanzhi fails to find favour with her mother-in-law, who takes in all the gossip of their next door neighbour and wants to expel Lanzhi from their home in order to find a high-born lady as her son’s new wife. Zhongqing is forced to annul the marriage and send Lanzhi home to her family. The loving couple painfully parts with the pledge that they abide by their love vows, in the hope that they would be together again someday. But time passes, Lanzhi waits, but no news comes from the Jiao family that welcomes her return. Only numerous matchmakers come and go. Forced by her mother and elder brother with rhyme and reason, Lanzhi cannot but agree to remarry. With a heavy heart, she finds no one to share her sorrows. So in the evening quiet, she steals out of her house to cry, just when Zhongqing has heard the news and rushes over. The couple is able to see each other again, but is fraught with mixed emotions since they parted. They renew their vows of love and promise that they would die rather than be separated. When finally the wedding day comes, Lanzhi throws herself into the pond to honour her pledge, and Zhongqing also hangs himself to die with his love.
|cast||Wu Fenghua, Chen Fei, Pan Qin|
Catching Wang Kui Alive from Trials of Love
Guiying’s ghost finds its way to the capital as she wants to test Wang Kui’s heart herself. Despite giving him several chances in the hope that he would change his mind, Guiying fails to bring him round. He even wants to shut her up forever. Without any hope now, Guiying captures the spirit of Wang and takes him to the netherworld.
|cast||Chen Fei, Xu Biaoxin|
Burning the Manuscripts and Mourning Daiyu from The Dream of the Red Chamber
The excerpts are taken from The Dream of the Red Chamber. The Matriarch of the Jia family senses that Baoyu and Daiyu are in love, but she prefers Baochai to be her granddaughter-in-law. So she takes Wang Xifeng’s suggestion of ‘swapping the bride’. Baoyu is told that he would marry Daiyu, when in fact the bride is Baochai. When he discovers the truth, Daiyu has already passed on. Baoyu tears out of the bridal chamber to mourn Daiyu at her altar before he leaves home with a disillusioned heart.
|cast||Chen Xiaohong, Zhang Xiaojun, Zhu Huanhuan|
Seeking out His Wife at the Mulberry Orchard and Fortune-telling from He Wenxiu
The story takes place in the Ming Dynasty. A scholar, He Wenxiu, falls into hard times and has to make a living as an itinerant singer in the street. Wang Lanying, the daughter of a squire, takes pity on him and sees that he is a talented scholar, so she gives him some silver. But such an act is considered ‘indecent behaviour’ by her father, who threatens to kill her. Fortunately Lanying’s elder brother comes to their aid, and Lanying and Wenxiu can get married and elope to Haining in Zhejiang. Lanying’s beauty attracts the attention of Zhang Tang, an unscrupulous squire, who makes passes at her. She fights with a pair of scissors, managing to escape. She is saved by a middle-aged woman, Madam Yang, who takes her in and hides her in a mulberry orchard. Zhang does not give up, and deliberately kicks a maid to death and incriminates Wenxiu by moving the corpse to his place. Wenxiu is found guilty is sentenced to banishment to the army. On the way, his guard takes pity on him and releases him. Later Wenxiu plucks the laurel at the national civil examination and is appointed an Imperial Commissioner of Zhejiang. He returns to Haining, disguises himself as a fortune-teller, and visits the mulberry orchard three times. Finally the husband and wife are reunited, while the real murderer is caught, and the wrongs are addressed.
|cast||Zhao Zhigang, Chen Shi|
Torturing Kouzhu from How a Dead Cat Was Substituted for a New-born Prince
The story takes place in the Song Dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Zhenzong. A royal consort, Lady Li, has given birth to a son. Out of jealousy, another royal consort, Lady Liu, colludes with the Chief Eunuch, Guo Huai, to substitute the new-born prince with a skinned dead cat and gives orders to the palace maid, Kouzhu to throw the baby into the imperial moat. Kouzhu cannot bring herself to carry out the order and turns to the Chief Eunuch Chen Lin for help. Chen secretly smuggles the young prince out to put him under the care of Xian the Eighth Prince. Twelve years later, Prince Xian, on the pretext that he is willing to let his emperor brother ‘adopt’ his son, returns Lady Li's son to become the Crown Prince. Liu grows suspicious, and orders Chen Lin to interrogate Kouzhu. Despite the torture, Kouzhu refuses to tell the truth and commits suicide.
|cast||Wu Fenghua, Wu Suying|
Yue Opera, also known as Shaoxing Opera by the region from which it originates, is a regional operatic genre that has evolved quickly despite its rather short history. The name Yue refers to the ancient geographical name of the region during the Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC). The genre was first known as xiao ge ban or di du ban, in reference to its humble beginning as folk narrative singing. By the 1920s, the originally all-male cast was gradually replaced by an all-female cast. A revolutionary change in the genre was initiated in 1942 by Yuan Xuefen, in Shanghai. Yuan favoured assimilating the Kunqu tradition and the formats of drama and films. Yin Guifang’s Fanghua Opera Troupe, Xu Yulan’s Yulan Opera Troupe, Fan Ruijuan, Fu Chuanxiang’s Dongshan Society of Yue Arts and the Yue Opera troupe with a cast of young-to-middle-aged artists created the wave of artistic reform and gave impetus to the rapid development of Yue Opera from that point on.
In Yue Opera, the vocal styles of actors in xiaosheng (young man) roles can be categorized into four main schools after the four legendary stars: Yin Guifang, Fan Ruijuan, Xu Yulan and Lu Jinhua. The Yin school is open yet lyrical, with each utterance of a word controlling the vocal delivery; the Fan school is robust and natural-voiced, with emphasis on pacing and accentuation; the Xu school is sonorant and expressive, with emotions woven into the vocal delivery and therefore highly infectious; the Lu school emphasizes the vocalizing techniques, and is distinguished by its ‘nasal resonance’, ‘back-of-head tones’ and ‘gutteral resonance’.
Performers from Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe of Shaoxing
Wu Fenghua is a National Class One Performer trained in xiaosheng (young civil male) roles in the Fan Ruijuan stylistic school. She was a recipient of the Golden Artistry Award in the 2nd Zhejiang Province Xiaobaihua Showcase, the Distinguished Xiaobaihua Award, the Zhejiang Province "Star of Chinese Opera” Award, a Class One Actor Award in the 5th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, a Gold Award in the Chinese Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Festival, and a Distinguished Performance Award in the 7th , 9th, 10th and 12th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, the 15th White Magnolia Award for Theatrical Performing Arts of Shanghai, and the 13th and 25th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre.
Wu Suying is a National Class One Performer specialized in huadan (flirtatious female) roles in the Lü Ruiying stylistic school. She won the Best Performer Award in the All China Yue Opera Young Performers Television Contest, the Golden Artistry Award in the 2nd Zhejiang Province Xiaobaihua Showcase, the Distinguished Xiaobaihua Award, the first Zhejiang Province "Star of Chinese Opera” Award, a Class One Actor Award in the 5th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, a Distinguished Performance Award in the 7th , 10th and 12th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, a Gold Award in the Chinese Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Festival, and the 24th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre.
Chen Fei is a National Class One Performer specialized in huadan roles in the stylistic school of Fu Quanxiang. She was a recipient of the Golden Artistry Award in the 2nd Zhejiang Province Xiaobaihua Showcase, the Distinguished Xiaobaihua Award, the Zhejiang Province "Star of Chinese Opera” Award, a Class One Actor Award in the 5th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, a Distinguished Performance Award in the 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, a Gold Award in the Chinese Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Festival, and the 22nd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre.
Yu Weiping is a National Class One Performer specialized in the wenwusheng (civil and military male) role type but also performs occasional laosheng (old man) roles. She was trained in the Xu Yulan stylistic school, and has won many awards, including an Outstanding Xiaobaihua Award at the Shaoxing Xiaobaihua Showcase and an Outstanding Performance Award at the Shaoxing City Theatre Festival; a Xiaobaihua Award at the 2nd Xiaobaihua Showcase and two Performance Awards at the 8th, 9th and 12th Theatre Festival of Zhejiang Province.
Pan Qin is a National Class One Performer specialized in chou (comic) roles. Trained at the Shaoxing Xiaobaihua Opera School, she was the winner of the Xiaobaihua Award at the 2nd Xiaobaihua Theatre Showcase of Zhejiang Province, a Class Two Award at the 9th and the 10th Theatre Festival of Shaoxing City, and a Performance Award at the 12th Theatre Festival of Shaoxing City.
Zhao Zhigang is a National Class One Performer, and was the former Associate Director and Artistic Director of the Shanghai Shaoxing Opera Group as well as Company Director of its No.1 Company. He is an exponent of the Yin Guifang stylistic school of leading male roles. His stage charisma has won him the title as ‘The Prince of Yue Opera’. He has won many awards, including the top honour at the 21st Plum Blossom Awards for Chinese Theatre, a Wenhua Award for Performance at the 7th China Arts Festival, an Outstanding Performance Award at the 9th China Theatre Festival, the 2nd China Gold Record Award, and a Lead Performer Award at the 3rd White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Performing Arts of Shanghai. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Hangzhou Federation of Literary and Art Circles and Artistic Director of Zhao’s Workshop.
Chen Xiaohong is a National Class One Performer trained in the artistic lineage of Wang Wenjuan, and specializes in dan (female) roles. She is currently Associate Director of the Hangzhou Yue Opera Theatre. Her accolades include the 19th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the 11th Wenhua Award for Performance, a Distinguished Performance Award in the 9th Zhejiang Theatre Festival, an Outstanding Contribution to Culture and the Arts Award of Hangzhou City, and the New Ten Sisters Award of the 1998 Yue Opera New Ten Sisters Competition.
Zhang Xiaojun is a National Class One Performer specialized in xiaosheng roles in the Xu Yulan stylistic school and formerly a principal with the Yue Opera Troupe of Ningbo City. She is a winner of many prestigious awards, including a Gold Award at the Ningbo City Xiaobaihua Showcase, a Class One Award at the All China Young Performers in Yue Opera Grand Prix, a Class One Award at the 7th Theatre Festival of Zhejiang Province, a Bronze Award at the China Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Festival, a Class One Award at the 5th Ningbo City Theatre Festival, the 22nd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, and was named one of the Ten Best in the Young Performers in Yue Opera Grand Prix of Zhejiang Province.
Chen Shi is an outstanding young performer specialized in huadan roles in the stylistic schools of Fu Quanxiang and Lu Ruiying. She won a Rookie Award for Supporting Roles at the 15th Magnolia Awards for Chinese Opera Performing Arts of Shanghai, an Outstanding Performance Award at the 9th Theatre Festival of Zhejiang Province, a Distinguished Contribution Award from the Shanghai Dramatists’ Association, a Lead Actor in Performing Arts Award at the 23rd Magnolia Awards for Chinese Opera Performing Arts of Shanghai, and a Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai Magnolia Theatre Performance. She is currently the General Manager of Zhao’s Workshop.
Xu Biaoxin is a National Class One Performer specialised in wenwu xiaosheng (young man roles in both the civil and military categories) in the stylistic school of Lu Jinhua. A principal of the No.1 Troupe of Shanghai Shaoxing Opera Group, he won a Class One Award at the Changzhou Professional Performers’ Showcase of Jiangsu Province, a Class Two Award at the ‘Sequoia Cup’ Chinese Opera Competition of Jiangsu Province, and an Outstanding Performance Award at the Suzhou-Shanghai Young Performers’ Showcase.
Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe of Shaoxing
Since its founding in 1986, the Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe of Shaoxing has created and staged more than 30 full-length operas and 50 excerpts. Its productions have won the ‘Five One Project Awards’ of Zhejiang, Outstanding Repertory Award at the Theatre Festival of Zhejiang Province, a Gold Award at the China Yue Opera Arts Festival, a Repertory Award at the China Theatre Festival, and the China Xiqu Society Award. The new original Yue Opera, How a Dead Cat Was Substituted for a New-born Prince was rated an outstanding stock repertory of Zhejiang Province, and was invited to participate in the All China Outstanding Repertory Showcase. The main performers of the troupe, Wu Fenghua and Chen Fei, are winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre. The troupe gives frequent performances in the Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai regions, and has toured Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore to wide and popular acclaim.
Other participating groups
Shaoxing City Performing Arts Company
No.1 Troupe of Shanghai Shaoxing Opera Group
Xiaobaihua Troupe of Hanzhou Yue Opera Theatre
Hangzhou Federation of Literary and Art Circles
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Ticket Price $420 $320 $220 $120
Ticket Price $360 $280 $200 $120
- With Chinese and English surtitles
- Please refer to the ‘Extension Activities’ page for details of extension activities
- Each performance lasts approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
|Programme Enquiries||2268 7325|
|Ticketing Enquiries||3761 6661|
|Telephone Credit Card Booking||2111 5999|
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