Jingkun Theatre and Shandong Peking Opera Theatre
Tang Yuen-ha and Geng Tianyuan, two virtuosi of Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera from Hong Kong, will be joined by Lu Yongchang, a Kunqu veteran, and the artists of the Shandong Peking Opera Theatre, to bring us some of the classics in the Peking Opera and Kunqu stock repertories. The Number One Scholar as the Matchmaker, also known as The Invincible Formation, was adapted by Ye Deling in 1960 and featured Zhang Junqiu at its premiere. The Number One Scholar as the Matchmaker is from Zhang’s prized repertoire and is a challenging piece for the performer who must have regal airs and at the same time, the shy reserve of a young girl. The delivery of lines and tonal changes require the performer to have a broad range and rich voice, a flamboyant yet elegant flair, and some coy charm mingled with some forthright appeal. Excerpt The Eight Mallets features actors in wusheng (military male) and wuxiaosheng (young military male) roles. While the costume requires the wearing of a long-feather headgear and thick-soled boots, the actor needs to be highly athletic in his torso movements and legwork. The fighting routines also involve adept wielding of the double spears to demonstrate the young Lu Wenlong’s smug, confident airs as he knows he can beat the opponent. In The General Reconciles with the Prime Minister, the actor who plays the prideful veteran general, Lian Po, who is later filled with regret, needs to demonstrate orthodox, sophisticated skills in singing, delivery of lines, acting and facial expressions. The actor who plays the prime minister, Lin Xiangru, must also demonstrate his generosity of heart and respect for able colleagues. The two excerpts, Painting the Portrait and Bidding Farewell at the Grave from The Story of the Lute, have a subtle delivery that can touch the viewer’s heart. The singing is an excellent example of the art of the shuimoqiang in Kunqu, where the actors need to sing with a delicate, lyrical voice, excellent enunciation and delivery of the fluid, long drawn-out tones.
29/7 (Wed) 7:30pm
Auditorium, Ko Shan Theatre New Wing
Peking Opera The Number One Scholar as the Matchmaker
The Number One Scholar as the Matchmaker, also known as The Invincible Formation, was adapted by Ye Delin in 1960 and featured Zhang Junqiu at its premiere. It is a challenging piece for the performer who must have regal airs and at the same time, the shy reserve of a young girl. The delivery of lines and tonal changes require the performer to have a broad range and rich voice, a flamboyant yet elegant flair, and some coy charm mingled with some forthright appeal.
When the Song emperor went hunting with Princess Chai near the borderland, the princess was captured by Liao warriors. Yang Yanzhao defeated the Liao soldiers alone and rescued the Princess. Falling in love with Yang, Princess Chai recited a poem and gave him a dress embroidered with pearls as a token of her love. Fu Dingkui, the son of General Fu Long, also went to rescue the Princess. Mistaking Dingkui as the rescuer, the Song emperor betrothed Princess Chai to him. The Eighth Prince and the Number One Scholar Lü Mengzheng found out from the Princess’ poem that the Song emperor has made a mistake and reported it to him. But the emperor insisted that Fu Dingkui was the rescuer. The Eighth Prince and Lü Mengzheng went to see Princess Chai to find out the truth. Being asked, she told them she had given Yang Yanzhao the pearl dress as a token of her love. Princess Chai asked the emperor to clear the matter in the imperial court. Next day, Yang Yanzhao and Fu Dingkui went to the imperial court with their father. Yang showed the pearl dress to everyone and the case is settled. Princess Chai and Yang Yanzhao got married afterwards.
|Cast||Tang Yuen-ha, Geng Tianyuan, Liu Jianjie, Zhang Bin, Song Bailong, Jin Zhiyong, Zhang Liming|
30/7 (Thu) 7:30pm
Auditorium, Ko Shan Theatre New Wing
Peking Opera The Eight Mallets
The Eight Mallets features actors in wusheng (military male) and wuxiaosheng (young military male) roles. While the costume requires the wearing of a long-feather headgear and thick-soled boots, the actor needs to be highly athletic in his torso movements and legwork. The fighting routines also involve adept wielding of the double spears to demonstrate the young Lu Wenlong’s smug, confident airs as he knows he can beat the opponent.
During Southern Song, Jin Wuzhu invaded Song and was intercepted by Yue Fei at Zhu Xian Zhen. Wuzhu sent his adopted son Lu Wenlong, son of Lu Deng, the provincial governor of Lu An, to fight for him. Sixteen years ago when Wuzhu captured Lu An, Lu Deng and his wife sacrificed their lives. Wuzhu took their son Wenlong and his wet nurse to Jin and raised him up. Young and good-looking, Wenlong fought with his double spears with unsurpassed valour. Yue Fei sent Yue Yun, He Yuanqing and two other generals to meet Wenlong in the battleground. To tire him out, they took turns to fight against him with their double mallets; yet they were unable to subdue him.
Peking Opera The General Reconciles with the Prime Minister
The character of Lian Po, the prideful veteran general, is performed by an actor trained in tongchui hualian (mallet-wielding, painted face) roles of the Qiu Shengrong stylistic school, while that of Lin Xiangru, the prime minister, is by an actor trained in laosheng (old male) roles. The actor who plays Lian Po, who is later filled with regret, needs to demonstrate orthodox, sophisticated skills in singing, delivery of lines, acting and facial expressions. The actor who plays Lin Xiangru must also demonstrate his generosity of heart and respect for able colleagues.
Lin Xiangru was made prime minister because of his contributions to Zhao. Proud of his own achievements, the jealous old general Lian Po looked down on Xiangru. He blocked Xiangru’s way and tried to humiliate him in several encounters; but each time, Xiangru avoided conflict with him. Imperial official Yu Qing paid a visit to Xiangru and found out that Xiangru put up with Lian Po to avoid disharmony between the civil and martial officials for fear of giving Qin an opportunity to take advantage of Zhao. Yu Qing went to see Lian Po who showed his disdain initially. But when Lian learnt of Xiangru’s concern, he regretted what he had done and went to see Xiangru with a cane on his back and asked for punishment.
|Cast||Liu Jianjie, Zhang Guohui|
Kunqu Opera Painting the Portrait and Bidding Farewell at the Grave from The Story of the Lute
The scene in the excerpts where the actors in zhengdan (orthodox female) and laosheng roles play off one another, requires thespian techniques in the revelation of the nuanced feelings. Therefore, although only a small cast is involved, the excerpts have a subtle delivery that can touch the viewer’s heart. The singing is an excellent example of the art of the shuimoqiang in Kunqu, where the actors need to sing with a delicate, lyrical voice, excellent enunciation and delivery of the fluid, long drawn-out tones.
Zhao Wuniang wanted to go to the capital city to find her husband. Before she left home, she drew a portrait of her deceased parents-in-law in tears and brought it with her. She also entrusted the care of the grave of her parents-in-law to old Master Zhang. Wuniang and Zhang bade farewell to each other in tears before the grave. Taking her lute with her, Wuniang begged all the way to the capital city.
|Cast||Tang Yuen-ha, Lu Yongchang|
A renowned Peking Opera and Kunqu artist in Hong Kong, Tang Yuen-ha has studied under Yu Zhenfei, a legendary figure of Kunqu and Peking Opera, received martial art training from famous wudan (military female) Zhang Meijuan, and mastered the artistic styles of Cao Hewen, Yao Chuanxiang and Chen Zhengwei. Tang has a full, rich and mellow voice. Her singing is smooth, delicate and vivid, and her performance elegant, refined and delightful. She is particularly good at portraying a variety of characters, such as Bai Suzhen, Du Liniang, Yang Guifei, You Sanjie and Yan Xijiao, each with unique charm and quality. In 2014, invited by China National Peking Opera Company, she played the role of Princess Der Ling in Empress Dowager Cixi and Princess Der Ling. Tang won the 8th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre and received an Outstanding Performance Award at the 3rd China Peking Opera Festival. She was also the winner of the Award for Best Artist 2008 (Xiqu) presented by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2010, Tang was conferred the Medal of Honour by the HKSAR Government. Apart from performing, Tang has also been involved in training and education in Hong Kong for many years. She has been invited by the University of London, York University, Australian National University, Sydney University and Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University to give lectures and demonstration performances. Tang is the founder and Artistic Director of Jingkun Theatre, Director of the China Theatre Association, and Chairman of the Xiqu Group of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
A Kunqu artist and educator, Lu Yongchang was one of the first students graduating from the Kunqu Performers Class of the Shanghai Chinese Opera School. Specializing in laosheng (old male) roles, he received training from two artists of the ‘Chuan’ generation, Zheng Chuanjian and Ni Chuanyue. He has a rich repertoire; his performance is bold, vigorous and free, giving insightful portrayal of the characters he plays. His representative works include Seeking Shelter for His Son from The Beauty Washing Silk by the River, Looking Homeward from The Story of Sheep Pasturing, Searching the Mountain and The Rescue of Ming Emperor Jianwen from Slaughtering Thousands of the Loyal, Beating His Son from The Story of Courtesan Li, A Feast from A Chain of Schemes, Weeping in the Prison Cell and The Reunion from The Story of the Horse Trader. Apart from performing, he has been a teacher of Kunqu for many years; his students include backbone actors Yuan Guoliang and Xiang Weidong. He is currently teaching at the Zhejiang Chinese Opera School.
A National Class One Performer and a member of the China Theatre Association, Geng Tianyuan is currently the director, actor and instructor of the Jingkun Theatre. He graduated from the Academy of Chinese Traditional Theatre in 1971, specializing in sheng (male) roles. In his career in Chinese theatre, Geng has performed as leading actor, director of theatre company and stage director. He is versatile in playing a varied repertoire of different roles, and can depict the personality and feelings of the characters in a meticulous way. In recent years, he has revived, adapted and directed an admirable range of productions including Kunqu Opera Pursuing the Dream and The Portrait from The Peony Pavilion, and Wu Song and Pan Jinlian; Peking Opera The House Wulong, Jin Yunu and The Great Heroine; Xiang Opera The Rabbit; and Cantonese Opera The Wooden Hairpin. In 1995, Geng won the Class One Award for Directing in Shandong; in 1996, he received the Best Director Award at the 6th Wenhua Awards presented by the Ministry of Culture; and in 2007, he won the Best Actor Award at the 3rd Festival of Traditional Chinese Opera in Paris. In 2012, he graduated with distinction in Master of Arts in Chinese Culture at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and in 2015, he was appointed as a guest lecturer at the same university.
A National Class One Performer and winner of the 26th Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, Liu Jianjie is the Deputy Director of Shandong Peking Opera Theatre. He specializes in laosheng roles in the Yang Baosen stylistic school. Apart from learning under Li Mingsheng of the Yang School, he has also received training from Peking Opera educator Ye Peng. Liu is the recipient of a Class One Award in the National Outstanding Young Performers Contest, an Outstanding Performance Award in the 7th Theatre Festival, a Performance Award at the 3rd China Peking Opera Festival and an Outstanding Award at the 10th China Arts Festival.
Zhang Guohui is a National Class One Performer and Director of the Shandong Young Artists Association. He graduated from the former Shandong School of Chinese Opera, specializing in hualian (painted-face). He was awarded an Outstanding Performance Award in the Shandong Young Peking Opera Artists Contest, a Class One Award in the Shandong Young and Middle-aged Peking Opera Artists Contest, and a Silver Award in the Shandong Young Peking Opera Artists Excerpts Demonstration Performance.
Graduated from the Shandong University of Arts specializing in wusheng (martial male), Song Bailong is an outstanding young artist in the Shandong Peking Opera Theatre. He studied under Yuan Zhenlin, Zhou Wenlin, Yang Changxiu and Jiang Changchun. Currently he receives training from Peking opera artist and educator Zhou Long. He has won a number of awards including the Best Performance Award at the 3rd Shandong Red Plum Blossom Contest, a gold medal in the Shandong Outstanding Young Artists Demonstration Performance, and a silver medal in the 7th National Young Peking Opera Artists Television Contest.
Established in 1986, Jingkun Theatre is a company dedicated to the development and promotion of Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera. Over the years, it has produced and organized various kinds of performances, talks, workshops and courses. Recent major productions include The Exquisite Charm of Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera; Three Stars in Peking Opera, Plum Blossom Award Winning Showcase and Yu Zhenfei and His Artistic Lineage in the Chinese Opera Festivals. Earlier productions include the Peking Opera Concert which showcased the various vocal styles and traced the development of Peking Opera in the last hundred years, The Great Belfry which was a Chinese Opera adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, and The Return of the Condor Lovers which was based on the novel of the same title by Louis Cha.
Jingkun Theatre was invited to represent Hong Kong in the China Peking Opera Festival held in Nanjing in 2001, and the China Kunqu Opera Festival held in Suzhou in 2006. In 2007, it was invited to represent Hong Kong and the Peking Opera genre in the 3rd Festival of Traditional Chinese Opera in Paris, and won the Prix Special du Jury (Special Jury Prize) and the Best Actor Award for its performance of The House Wulong. Apart from performances and creative production, Jingkun Theatre has also conducted arts education and guided appreciation sessions for primary, secondary and university students in Hong Kong. One of its programmes, How Much Do You Know about Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera, conducted with lively explanations, full-cast performance and live orchestral accompaniment, has become the Theatre’s most popular guided appreciation programme. Over the years, Jingkun Theatre has been invited to give seminars, workshops and demonstrational performances at the universities in the UK and Australia.
Shandong Peking Opera Theatre
Shandong Peking Opera Theatre was established in 1950. Over more than half a century, the company has bred a large number of artists who have achieved both artistic and moral excellence. Over the years, the company has successfully produced new works such as Raid of the White-tiger Regiment and Red-clouded Hillock; both were later made into films. Shilong Bay won the Cheng Changgeng Bronze Medal in the 1st China Peking Opera Festival and an award for new repertoire in the 6th Wenhua Performance Award. The Overlord in the Spring and Autumn Period received an outstanding repertoire award in both the 7th China Theatre Festival and the 3rd China Peking Opera Festival, and a new repertoire award in the 11th Wenhua Performance Award. Railroad Guerrillas won the Class One Award in the 5th China Peking Opera Festival. The Sacrifice of an Iron-willed Confucius Scholar received the 6th China Peking Opera Festival Silver Award. Rui Fu Xiang was showcased at the 10th China Peking Opera Festival and won the Grand Prix (top of the honour roll) in the 14th Wenhua Performance Award. Apart from touring around the country, the company has also visited many overseas countries as a cultural representative. Its footsteps have traversed countries and places all over Europe and Asia. The company’s artistic accomplishment has earned it significant influence in the Chinese opera arena and the fame of an outstanding performing group in China and overseas.
Information provided by Jingkun Theatre and Shandong Peking Opera Theatre
29–30/7 (Wed–Thu) 7:30pm
Auditorium, Ko Shan Theatre New Wing
|Prices||$380 $240 $120|
- With Chinese and English surtitles
- Each performance lasts approx. 2 hours and 50 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
- Programme Enquiries: 2268 7325
- Ticketing Enquiries: 3761 6661
- Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999
- Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk
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