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A New Cantonese Opera Battle at Wancheng

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Due to overwhelming response, there are only a limited number of tickets for box seats with restricted view left available for sale at the price of $120 at the box office of Hong Kong Cultural Centre from 10am on the day of the performance. Each patron can purchase a maximum of two tickets per transaction while stocks last.


It is not just any battle, but a psychological battle

  that involves strategic defence and offence.

Throughout his life, Cao Cao suffered three defeats in battle, but they were all major and traumatic. They are: the battle at Wancheng, the battle at Chi Bi, and his fight with Ma Chao. But perhaps the one that stigmatized him the most was the Battle at Wancheng, in which his eldest son Cao Ang, his nephew Cao Anmin and his general Dian Wei died on the battlefield. Had he not been saved by Yu Jin, Cao would have died also. Battle at Wancheng is penned by Cantonese Opera star Law Kar-ying, based on a work from the traditional Cantonese Opera repertory but revised and revitalized with humanistic insight, character study, gripping action moved along by the close-knit scenes. The introduction of the age-old paichang staging, that is, a formulaic presentation involving specific rountines and delivery of lines, adds to the despotic Cao Cao.

The story takes place in the year 197, when the Han Dynasty is nearing its demise after the revolt of Dong Zhuo. Warlords are occupying lands with their own armies. Cao Cao takes Emperor Xian of Han from the capital city of Luoyang to Xuchang to make him a puppet ruler. After he has ensured that Lu Bu, the foster son of Dong Zhuo who plays a pivotal role in killing Dong, is happily settled, Cao leads his army to attack Wancheng, which is not far away from Xuchang. Now Wancheng is the base of Zhang Ji and Zhang Xiu. Zhang Ji is killed by an arrow in a battle at Yushui, and although Zhang Xiu is a valiant fighter, he is outnumbered by Cao’s camp. At the advice of Jia Xu, he feigns surrender to lure Cao Cao to enter the city. Seeing Cao’s lascivious weakness, he presents to him Madam Zou, the widow of Zhang Ji. A woman of chastity, Zou accepts Xiu’s suggestion to play a seductress role in order to seize the opportunity to get rid of Cao. The ultimate aim is to save Emperor Xian from the grip of Cao and reestablish Han rule. A political war game is thus brewing, ready to go off any time…

Law Kar-ying as Zhang Xiu
A valiant general fighting a lone battle, biding his time through political acumen

Yau Sing-po as Cao Cao
A warlord that is the power behind the throne; his lasciviousness is his Achilles’ heel

Chan Ho-kau as Madam Zou
The wife of Zhang Ji from Zhang Xiu’s clan, recently widowed and vows to seduce the treacherous Cao Cao at the expense of her chaste good name

Yuen Siu-fai as Jia Xu
Political adviser to Zhang Xiu, a great strategist and politician

Hong Hai as Dian Wei
A general in Cao Cao’s court who has won the latter’s favour with his valiant fighting

Lui Hung-kwong as Cao Hong
Cousin of Cao Cao and a loyal follower

Wang Kit-ching as Molan
Madam Zou’s maid, smart and shrewd

Director: Liu Xun
Playwright/ Coordinator: Law Kar-ying
Percussion Ensemble Leader: Yau Lung
Ensemble Leader: Pang Kam-Shun
Stage Manager: Leung Wai-hong
Martial Art Instructor: Hon Yin-ming
Lighting and Set: Kwong Hing Stage Scene Production Company
Props and Costume: Kam Yee Costumes Company
Production Manager: Yuen Lai-wah

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Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

• With Chinese and English surtitles.
• Please refer to the ‘Extension Activities’ page for details of other extension activities.
• Each performance lasts approx. 3 hours with a 15-minute intermission.