Opening Programme

Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe

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Opening Programme

Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe

In Peking Opera, there is a distinction between the so-called Peking Style and Shanghai Style.  Shanghai Style emphasizes the dramatic integrity and rhythm of the play as an organic whole, particularly demanding in terms of acting and performing.  In the opening programme of the Chinese Opera Festival this year, the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe is staging three Shanghai-style plays to shed light on this distinctive dimension to Peking Opera.  All-time Peking Opera classic Farewell My Concubine was premiered in the early years of the 20th century, and in recent decades, it appeared on stage chiefly as an excerpt.  The Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe brought together a group of veterans in re-creating this full-length version which has long eluded today’s audiences, based on the script in Collected Plays of Mei Lanfang published in 1959.  The stellar cast features Shang Changrong, a Peking Opera great widely acclaimed as a “national treasure”; Shi Yihong, an accomplished dan (female) actor of the Mei (Lanfang) school; and other major actors from the Troupe.  Chen Shaoyun, master of the Qi (Lintong) school, is starring in How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a Newborn Prince (Part I), another signature piece of Shanghai-style Peking Opera.  His nuanced portrayal of a selfless man in this stirring story is sure to amaze.  Shanghai-style Peking Opera is known for its acrobatic feats.  Sun Wukong’s Battle at the Spider’s Web Grotto is an acrobatic fantasy tale featuring highly stylized, challenging and creative stunts, coupled with exceptionally original and daring stage effects, promises a theatrical experience that sets itself apart.  Elements old and new are put together in a way that serves to accentuate the essence of traditional Chinese theatre, offering a glimpse of the extraordinary riches of Shanghai-style Peking Opera which always goes the extra mile to please our senses and boasts a remarkable run of over 600 performances since its premiere in the 1980s.

Peking Opera in Shanghai Style

Since the early 20th Century, many Peking Opera artists who went south and settled in Shanghai created a large number of new productions with popular plotlines by integrating the unique East-West social fabric of the city with the audio-visual elements of Peking Opera.  As a result, ‘Peking Opera in Shanghai Style’ was born, a genre that breaks away from the old formats, conventions and styles by borrowing or assimilating performing arts elements from other theatrical genres, stage drama and dance.  These groundbreaking works also boldly adopts modern staging techniques, thereby pointing the art of Peking Opera in new directions.

Programme Details

19/6 (Fri) 7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Farewell My Concubine (Complete Edition)

The story of the Peking Opera, Farewell My Concubine, came from The Romance of Western Han.  The Peking Opera was created and premiered by the famous Peking Opera virtuosi – Yang Xiaolou, Mei Lanfang and Jin Shaoshan in the early part of the 20th Century.  It was so popular that it became a classic in Peking Opera.  But in recent years, it appeared on stage chiefly as an excerpt.  The Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe has revived the complete edition of nine acts by inviting seasoned artists for input.  They used the libretto of Farewell My Concubine printed in the book, Collected Plays of Mei Lanfang (1959) as the basis for revival, which is realized in the present production.

With the Qin Empire fallen, the states of Chu and Han are battling for supremacy.  Xiang Yu, King of Chu, is a good fighter but lacks political acumen; he is so stubborn and self-opinionated that he leads his army to fight the Han army head on, against the advice of his generals and his favourite consort, Lady Yu.  He has thus walked into the trap set by Han Xin, Marshal of the Han army.  As a result, the Chu army is ambushed on all sides at Gaixia.  At Han Xin’s order, the soldiers in the Han camp sing the songs of Chu.  This leads the Chu soldiers to mistakenly believe that their land has been taken by Han.  They are worried about their family back home.  With many slipping away, the army dissipates.  Xiang Yu is aware that he can no longer turn the tide.  He heaves long sighs and sings a sad song as he pats his beloved horse.  Lady Yu sets up a wine table and performs a sword dance for him to ease his anguish.  Tearfully they try to comfort each other.  But the Han troops are closing in on them.  Xiang Yu wants to take Yu away by fighting through the battle front, but Yu does not want to be his burden, so she kills herself with his sword.  Chased by the Han soldiers, Xiang retreats to Wujiang River.  He feels so ashamed of going home that he takes his own life.  The State of Chu falls to Han in the end.

Cast Shang Changrong, Yang Donghu (both act as King Chu); Shi Yihong, Lan Tian, Li Jun, Xu Jianzhong, Jin Xiquan, Fu Xiru, Ren Guangping

20/6 (Sat) 7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a New-born Prince (Part I)

The opera series, How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a New-born Prince, is a gem in Shanghai-style Peking Opera.  It has been a perennial favourite among Chinese opera fans since its premiere.  The fast-moving plotline with its many twists and turns, the dramatic staging and the insightful portrayal of characters etc. have all made it a highly enjoyable performance.

During the reign of Emperor Zhenzong (r. 997-1022) of the Song Dynasty, two imperial consorts, Lady Li and Lady Liu, are pregnant at the same time.  On giving birth, Lady Liu colludes with the eunuch serving in the Emperor’s chamber, Guo Huai, to substitute a skinned dead cat for Lady Li’s newborn son.  As a result, she is made the Empress while Li is sent to a remote part of the palace grounds at the Emperor’s orders.  Chen Lin, the Imperial Chaplain, with the help of a palace maid called Kouzhou, secretly gets the baby out of the palace and puts it in the care of the Eighth Prince.  Seven years’ later, the Emperor has no heir to the throne, and makes the son of the Eighth Prince as the Crown Prince-in-line.  The young boy one day wanders to the remote part of the palace and meets his birth mother, Lady Li.  When Liu, now the Empress, learns of this, she becomes suspicious.  She tortures Kouzhu and bears upon Chen Lin to make them tell.  Kouzhu and the Chaplain of the remote part of the palace, Qin Feng, sacrifice themselves in their attempt to protect the innocent.  Liu goes to the Emperor and pours poisonous words into his ears, intent on having Chen Lin executed.  The Eighth Prince hurries to the palace to save him.  Chen, braving the torture, reveals the true story, to the shock of the Emperor, who wants to make amends and revoke the case.  But his effort is thwarted …

Cast Chen Shaoyun, Shi Yihong; Yan Haiying, Hu Xuan (both act as Lady Li); Xiong Mingxia, Tang Yuancai, Xu Jianzhong, Ren Guangping, Bi Xixi, Yan Qinggu, Yu Wei

21/6 (Sun) 7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Sun Wukong’s Battle at the Spider’s Web Grotto

The story of this Peking Opera with a mythical theme comes from Journey to the West.  The staging has an ostensibly ‘Shanghai’ style, with its attention to details, lively acting, gripping martial arts, unconventional scenography and impactful special effects.  The new elements added to the traditional Peking Opera stage craft have made this production flamboyant, audacious and highly entertaining.  It has more than 600 show runs since it was first premiered in the 1980s, and is now an iconic piece in the stock repertory of Peking Opera of Shanghai Style.

In the Spiders’ Grotto, the weird-looking spider demons are ominously waiting for the arrival of Monk Tripitaka on his way to the West.  Tripitaka is actually the mortal incarnation of an Arhat under the Buddha of the West.  The spiders are wielding their spindle legs as they imagine the delicious ‘meat’ that will soon land in their stomach.  Now there is a kingdom populated only by women nearby.  Their ruler is infatuated with this man from the Eastern Land, and offers to marry him but gets rebuffed.  The Spider Demon takes the opportunity to seize her soul and enters her body, with the purpose of seducing Tripitaka with her voluptuous beauty.  It manages to kidnap him to the grotto.  Tripitaka’s disciple, Sun Wukong the Monkey King, is brave and smart.  He transforms into a woman form to sneak into the grotto, where he fights the demons and finally wins.

Cast Feng Yun, Hao Jie, Fu Xiru, Yu Wei, Gao Feng, Hu Lisha

Performers

Shang Changrong

Shang Changrong is a National Class One Performer specialised in hualian (painted face) roles.  The son of the famous Peking Opera legend, Shang Xiaoyun, he was trained under Chen Furui, Su Lianhan and Hou Xirui.  He is a member of the 8th, 9th and 10th sessions of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Chairman of the Chinese Dramatists’ Association, Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and Chairman of the Shanghai Dramatists’ Association.  He is also a Visiting Professor of the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts and the Shanghai Academy of Theatre.  His many accolades include Representative Bearer of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Peking Opera at National Level, the first ever winner of the Plum Blossom Award Grand Prix for Chinese Theatre, the Wenhua Performance Award presented by the Ministry of Culture, an Outstanding Award at the Chinese Arts Festival, an Outstanding Award at the Peking Opera Festival of China, another Outstanding Award at the China Theatre Festival, the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art, and the title of ‘World Theatre Ambassador’ of the International Theatre Institute (I.T.I.).

Chen Shaoyun

Chen Shaoyun is a National Class One Performer specialised in laosheng (old man) roles of the Qilintong stylistic school.  He was a formal disciple of Zhou Shaolin, Zhao Lintong and the theatre director Ajia.  He was also trained under Zhang Xinzhong and Ming Yukun.  Chen is the Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Dramatists’ Association, Vice President of the Zhou Xinfang Art Research Association, and a Representative Bearer of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Peking Opera at National Level.  His best known works include How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a New-born Prince, The Merits and Foibles of Xiao He, The Hunchback Prime Minister, A Banquet for Su Dongpo, Xu Ce Running to the City Wall, The War between Chu and Han etc.  He is considered a distinguished figure and exponent of the Qilingtong stylistic school in Chinese traditional theatre today with his vivid and convincing portrayal of his characters.  His accolades include the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, Wenhua Performance Award presented by the Ministry of Culture, an Outstanding Award at the China Theatre Festival, another Outstanding Award at the Peking Opera Festival of China, Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Award for Theatrical Art.

Shi Yihong

Shi Yihong is a National Class One Performer specialised in qingyi (virtuous female) and daomadan (sword-wielding and horse-riding female) roles, in the stylistic school of Mei Lanfang.  She was among the first batch of trainees to have completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers.  She was trained under Zhang Meijuan, Lu Wenqin, Li Yuru and Yu Wonghua.  Shi is currently a member of the 12th session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Youth Federation.  Her best known works include Hu Sanniang and Wang Ying, How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a New-born Prince, new adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Legend of the White Snake, The Magic Lotus Lantern, The Lady Generals of the Yang Family, The Legend of the White Snake, Princess Baihua etc.  She was the winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, an Outstanding Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young to Middle-aged Peking Opera Performers, and the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art.

Tang Yuancai

Tang Yuancai is a National Class One Performer specialised in jing (painted face) roles, and was trained under Fang Rongxiang, Wang Zhengping, Qian Fuyuan and Zhou Zhengli.  He is best known for his performance in How a Dead Cat was Substituted for a New-born Prince, The Incarceration of Shan Tong, Wutai Mountain, Executing Chen Shimei.  He was the winner of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the 7th Wenhua Performance Award presented by the Ministry of Culture, the Best Performance Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art, and a Performance Award at the Shanghai Baogang Beaux-Arts Awards.

Li Jun

Li Jun is a National Class One Performer specialised in laosheng (old man) roles.  He was trained in the Yang Baosen stylistic school under Li Mingsheng, Ma Changli, Liang Qingyun and Wang Zhenghua.  He was amongst the first batch of trainees to complete the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers.  The accolades he has won include the Mei Lanfang Gold Award, an Honour Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Outstanding Young Peking Opera Performers, and the Best Performance Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young to Middle-aged Peking Opera Performers.

Yan Qinggu

Yan Qinggu is a National Class One Performer specialised in wenwuchou (comic role in both civil and military styles) as well as the ‘Monkey King’ role.  He was among the first batch of trainees to complete the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers, where he was a student of Zhang Chunhua, and was personally coached by Yan Shixi, Sun Zhengyang, Niu Piao, Liu Yilong and Chen Zhengzhu.  He is a Representative Bearer of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Peking Opera of Shanghai City, winner of a Class One Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Outstanding Young Performers in Peking Opera, the Best Performance Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, and the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art.

Xu Jianzhong

Xu Jianzhong is a National Class One Performer specialised in laosheng (old man) roles.  He was trained at the Shanghai Opera School under Chi Shigong, Zhang Shaolou, Shen Jinbo, Guan Songan, He Yurong and Li Chuncheng.  His repertoire includes Yang Silang Visits His Mother, Wang Baochuan, Wu Zixu at the Zhaoguan Checkpoint, Sha-Jia-Bang, Taking Tiger Mountain by Stratagem.  He won an Outstanding Award at the 5th China Theatre Festival, and the Television Screen Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young to Middle-aged Peking Opera Performers.

Hu Xuan

Hu Xuan is a National Class One Performer specialised in laodan (old woman) roles.  She completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers and was trained under Li Duofen, Li Jinquan, Wang Yumin and Wang Jinghua.  Her accolades include a Class One Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Young to Middle-aged Peking Opera Performers, a Television Screen Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art and an Outstanding Award at the China Theatre Festival.

Jin Xiquan

Jin Xiquan is a National Class One Performer specialised in xiaosheng (young civil male) roles in the Ye Shenglan stylistic school.  He was among the 4th batch of trainees to have completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers and the first batch of trainees at the Workshop for Different Stylistic Schools in Peking Opera in China.  He was trained under Ye Shaolan, Ru Shaoquan, Bi Gaoxiu and Zhang Chunxiao.  His accolades include the Best Performance Award at the 4th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, a Gold Award at the 5th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, a Class One Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Outstanding Young Peking Opera Performers, and the Lead Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art.

Xiong Mingxia

Xiong Mingxia is a National Class One Performer trained in huadan (flirtatious female) roles of the Xun Huisheng stylistic school.  She completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers and the first Workshop for Different Stylistic Schools in Peking Opera in China.  She was trained under Sun Yumin, Song Changrong, Liu Changyu and Li Weihua.  She was the winner of an Outstanding Award at the 4th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, the Gold Award at the 5th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, and a Class Two Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Outstanding Young Peking Opera Performers.

Fu Xiru

Fu Xiru is a National Class One Performer trained in laosheng (old man) roles in the Yu Shuyan and Yang Baosen stylistic schools.  He trained at the School for Performing Arts of the Shanghai Normal University and completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers.  His teachers included Zhang Wenjuan, Li Haotian, Tong Qiang and Guan Songan.  He was the winner of the Gold Award at the 6th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, the New Actor Award at the Shanghai White Magnolia Awards for Theatrical Art, and the Red Prunus Award at the Chinese Traditional Theatre Singing Competition.

Feng Yun

Feng Yun is a National Class One Performer specialised in wudan (military female) and daomadan (sword-wielding and horse-riding female) roles.  She completed training at the 5th postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers, and is considered one of the promising young performers of wudan roles today.  She was the winner of a Class One Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase for Outstanding Young Peking Opera Performers, a Performance Award and later, a Gold Award at the All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, and a Silver Award for the “Military Actors’ Arena” which was part of the 4th Peking Opera Festival of China.

Yang Donghu

Yang Donghu is a National Class Two Performer specialised in hualian (painted face) roles.  He was among the 5th batch of trainees to have completed the postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers.  He trained under Li Changchun, Luo Changde and Zhang Guanzheng, and received coaching from Shang Changrong.  His best known repertoire includes The Incident on Lianhuan Mountain, The Wild Boar Forest, River Jiujiang Delta and Li Kui Visits His Mother.  He won the Silver Award at the 6th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers.

Hao Jie

Hao Jie is a National Class Two Performer specialised in wuchou (military and comic) roles.  He trained at the Shanghai Opera School under Sun Ruichun, Liu Xizhong, Qin Weicheng, Yan Qinggu and Shi Xiaoliang, and was the winner of an Outstanding Award at the 6th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, and a Gold Award at the 7th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers.

Lan Tian

Lan Tian is a National Class Two Performer specialised in laosheng (old man) roles of the Yu Shuyan stylistic school.  He trained at the Shanghai Academy of Theatre and attended the 1st Workshop for Different Stylistic Schools in Peking Opera in China.  He is currently attending the 6th postgraduate course for Chinese outstanding young Peking Opera performers.  His teachers included Zhang Shaochun, Guan Songan, Chen Zhiqing, Tong Qiang and Ni Haitian.  He was the winner of the Gold Award at the 7th All China Television Grand Prix for Young Peking Opera Performers, and an Outstanding Award at the All China Accreditation Showcase of Operatic Excerpts by Outstanding Young Performers in Peking Opera.

Ren Guangping

Ren Guangping is a National Class One Performer specialised in hualian (painted face) roles.  He trained at the Shanghai Opera School under He Yonghua, Wang Zhengping, Zhao Wenkui, Tian Enrong and Wang Fuchun.  His best known performances include Li Kui Visits His Mother, the trilogy The Lost Battle at Jieting, The Evacuated City Stratagem and Executing Ma Su, Xiao-Yao-Jin and Farewell My Concubine from the traditional repertory of Peking Opera.  He was the winner of the Advancement Award at the 1st Baogang Cup Competition for Young Peking Opera Performers.

Yu Wei

Yu Wei is a National Class One Performer specialised in chou (comic) roles.  He graduated from the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts where he trained under Xiao Shengxuan, Wang Ronghan, Zhang Jinliang, Niu Piao, Ai Shiju, Sun Zhengyang, and Jin Xihua.  He is known for his performance in A Meeting of Heroes, Running Away from the Nunnery, The Snobbish Innkeeper, Autumn River, Lady Zhaojun Going Beyond the Great Wall.

Performing Group

Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe
(Shanghai Jingju Company)

Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe was established in 1955, and the founding president was the Peking Opera legend, Zhou Xinfang.  The current president is Shan Yuejin.  For more than five decades, the troupe has garnered a wealth of talents who helped build its repertory, which include not only the traditional but also new original productions.  It has won the highest and most esteemed accolades and laurels in China, including the National Fine Stage Arts Project Award, the China Arts Festival Grand Prix, the Wenhua Grand Prix, the China Theatre Award, the Peking Opera Festival of China Gold Award, the Five ‘One’ Project Award, the China Xiqu Society Award, and many more.  The Troupe gives frequent tours to Europe, America and Asia, covering more than twenty countries as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Information provided by Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe

Ticketing

19–21/6 (Fri–Sun) 7:30pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Prices price01$420 price02$320 price03$220 price04$120*
  • With Chinese and English surtitles
  • Please refer to the Extension Activities page for details of extension activities
  • Each performance lasts approx. 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission

*Some seats have restricted view

seatplan

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