Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre
of Jiangsu and Su Opera Troupe

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Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu and Su Opera Troupe

Originates from Suzhou, Su Opera is formed by merging flower drum tanhuang, nanci, and Kunqu.  The music accompaniment is provided mainly by erhu and supplemented by other Jiangnan silk and bamboo instruments.  Its development is closely related to that of Kunqu Opera.  The first Su Opera troupe was formed in the 1940s by sutan (Suzhou tanhuang) artiste Zhu Guoliang and kunqu artiste Zhou Chuanying, Wang Chuansong and others.  The major vocal style taipingdao is derived from sutan, which carries the soft and smoothness of tanci while assimilating the exquisite refinement of Kunqu and maintaining the popular charm of sutan in its music and presentation.  

For the first time in Hong Kong, the troupe will present in the Festival both Su Opera and Kunqu Opera.  Dan role actress Wang Fang who has been personally coached by the first generation of sutan artiste in her refined techniques, will join hands with famous sheng actor Yu Jiulin who is equally conversant in both genres to perform the classic Su Opera The Story of the Most Famous Beauty.  It is going to be a highly awaited performance.  Fine young actors and actresses from the troupe will present excerpts from traditional Su Opera and Kunqu Opera.  It is a rare chance for audience to see both genres in one performance.  Wang Fang and sheng actor Zhao Wenlin will play in Kunqu Opera Scepters Piling on the Couch, a reconstruction from the excerpts personally passed down by veteran artist Ni Chuanyue.  Joining together five excerpts; Birthday banquet, Taking a concubine, Kneeling at the door, Begging for a son and Return of the concubine in an intact story with refined characterization, it tells of the inability of the protagonist to escape from the pressure of traditional society values despite being upright and thoughtful.  Wang Fang’s remarkable interpretation and enactment of the character’s internal conflict is incredibly touching.  The unexpected ending further reinforces the theme which inspires much thought.

Programme Details

1/8 (Sat) 7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Kunqu Opera Scepters Piling on the Couch

Scepters Piling on the Couch is also known as Tale of the Jealous Wife, which is a dramatic chuanqi written by Fan Xizhe in early Qing Dynasty. This performance is a reproduction of the version personally passed down by veteran maestro Ni Chuanyue, joining together the five excerpts; Birthday banquet, Taking a concubine, Kneeling at the door, Begging for a son and Return of the concubine. The story tells of the domestic affair of the military governor of Shuo Fang Province, Gong Jing in Tang Dynasty. Gong Jing is the man who recommends Guo Ziyi to be the Deputy Commander-in-chief of the national army. The performance preserves the elegant and refined traditional style of Suzhou Kunqu.

The story tells of the domestic affair of the military governor of Shuo Fang Province, Gong Jing in Tang Dynasty. Gong’s wife Shi is a cultured and virtuous woman excelled in housekeeping and knowledgeable in national matters. She is capable of offering invaluable advice to Gong on his work. Gong loves and respects her deeply but with a little bit of awe too. As Gong is getting old and still heirless, he wants to take a concubine but finds it hard to tell his wife. One day, his lieutenant finds him a girl Xiao who is willing to sell herself as her father is unable to pay the tax. Gong hides her in a chamber but unfortunately she is discovered by Shi. Shi sympathizes with Xiao’s poor fate, offers her 300 silver taels and releases her to go home. Upon returning from the training ground, Gong finds Xiao has been set free by his wife. He goes to the bedroom to find his wife but she refuses to let him in. Knowing he is wrong, Gong kneels at the door to beg for her forgiveness. Shi finally opens up to receive him. Against the background of prevailing Confucian doctrine of filial piety, the strong and determined Shi, after due consideration, nevertheless goes to find Xiao back and officiates at the ceremony for her husband to take the concubine. The twist in the end further enforces the theme and inspires much thought for the audience.

Cast Wang Fang, Zhao Wenlin, Tang Chisun, Weng Yuxian, Shen Guofang, Tang Rong

2/8 (Sat) 2:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Excerpts

Su Opera Yue Lei Looking for a Wife from The Story of Yue Fei

In this excerpt from The Story of Yue Fei by Yao Maoliang, speech is employed to show the characterization with a distinct comedic effect.

It tells of the story of Yue Fei’s son Yue Lei. While fleeing from the treacherous officials’ persecution and pursuit to kill, Yue Lei seeks refuge in the house of a civilian girl Yu Lian who in desperation, comes up with a brilliant idea and hides Yue Lei in the closet. She thus saves his life but at the same time arouses the misunderstanding of her mother and elder brother. After explaining the background to dissolve the misunderstanding, Yue Lei and Yu Lian finally get married.

Cast Zhou Jingyue, Liu Yi, Zhao Xiaohui, Chen Yanyi

Kunqu Opera Beating the Son from The Story of Li Wa

In this excerpt from The Story of Li Wa written in Ming Dynasty, there is an in-depth and touching portrayal of the father and son relationship. The complex psychology of the father Zheng Dan is presented through the actor’s refined body movements, expression and voice.

Zheng Yuanhe goes to the capital to sit for the imperial examination but falls for the courtesan Li Yaxian instead and ends up penniless and miserable. His father Zheng Dan goes to the capital to attend court and learns from the old servant that Yuanhe has degraded to become a songster. Dan brings him home and out of fury and humiliation, beats him up heavily. Thinking Yuanhe has died from the beating, Dan asks the servant to dump his body in the deserted wild while feeling utterly devastated at heart.

Cast Zhou Xuefeng, Qu Binbin

Su Opera Reunion with the Mother from Jade Dragonfly

Reunion with Mother is one of the important excerpts from Jade Dragonfly. The intriguing and layered vocal style used in it reflects the emotional upheaval of the mother and son meticulously.

Nun Zhizhen and scholar Shen Guisheng fall in love and get married but Guisheng dies from illness leaving Zhizhen with a son. Finding it hard to raise a baby in the temple, Zhizhen abandons her son by the road. Someone saves the boy and names him Yuan Zai. Sixteen years later, Yuan Zai learns from a blood poem that his birth mother is a nun called Zhizhen and goes to the temple to find her. Confined by the temple rules, Zhizhen dares not reunite with him at first but after sincere pleading from Yuan Zai, the mother and son finally reunite.

Cast Tu Jingya, Xu Lan

Kunqu Opera Requesting Tea from The Water Margin

An excerpt from The Water Margin written by Xu Zichang, the speech and body movement design are compact and exquisite.

Zhang Wenyuan works in the same magistracy as Song Kong. Having nothing to do in the magistracy one day, Zhang takes a stroll in the street. When passing by Song Kong's concubine Yan Poxi's house, he sees her leaning against the door.  Charmed and mesmerized by Yan's beauty, Zhang tries to seduce her on the pretext of requesting tea to quench his thirst. 

Cast Lu Jia, Liu Chunlin

2/8 (Sat) 7:30 pm

Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Su Opera The Story of the Most Famous Beauty

Also known as The Oil-seller Winning the Most Famous Beauty, this story is adapted from the script Winning the Most Famous Beauty written by Li Yu in early Qing Dynasty. An arranged version by Song Hengzhi appeared in 1954 and in 1956, Xiao Duoqu adapted Song’s version into a Su Opera version. The opera is composed of six parts; Decking up, Tour the lake, Return home drunk, Disobedience, Snowy pond and Burn the contract. The performance is refined and the tunes elegant, in particular the part Return home drunk. With the effort of several generations of artistes on polishing the work, it has become Su Opera’s classic repertory.

The story takes places in late Northern Song Dynasty when the Jin soldiers come to invade. Eunuch Shen Shan’s niece Shen Yaoqin is separated from her maid in fleeing from calamity and is abducted and sold to become a prostitute in Linan. She later turns into a famous courtesan. Oil-seller Qin Zhong encounters her by the West Lake and falls in love. Taking his entire savings for the year with him, he goes to meet her but she does not return until late at night and is deadly drunk too. Unwilling to wake her up, Qin stays quietly by her side and uses his sleeves to pick up her vomit and waits til daybreak. The beautiful girl wakes up and is deeply moved. She decides to shake off the ties with the wealthy dandy Wan Qi and after the crisis at the snowy pond, finally buys back her freedom and marries Qin Zhong.

Cast Wang Fang, Yu Jiulin, Wang Rudan, Tang Rong, Zhang Tangbing

Performers

Wang Fang

Wang Fang is a National Class One Performer specialised in the wudan (martial female) and daomadan (young female warriors) roles. Wang Fang is a disciple of masters Shen Chuanzhi, Yao Chuanxiang, Yi Chuanyue, Zhang Chuanfang, Zhang Jiqing, Zhuang Zaichun and Jiang Yufang. She is currently the Deputy Director of Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu and the representative exponent of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Project (Kunqu Opera). She is a recipient of multiple provincial and national awards including the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre (12th and 22nd), the 12th Wenhua Performance Award, the UNESCO Promotion of Kunqu Art Award, National No.1 Troupe Excellence in Performance Top Prize, 1st National Kunqu Opera Young Actors Exchange Best Performance Award, Kunqu Festival of China Excellence in Performance Award ( 1st, 4th and 5th), the 6th Jiangsu Theatre Festival Excellence in Performance Award, Taiwan’s Golden Bell Award and the 5th China Theatre Festival Excellence in Performance Award. The Kunqu Opera film Breaking Willow at Yang Guan she starred in has been selected for screening in the 60th Venice Film Festival and the 28th Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Yu Jiulin

Yu Jiulin is a National Class One Performer, the Assistant to Director of Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu and a recipient of the 23rd Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre. He took lessons from Yue Meiti and Shi Xiaomei and in 2003 became a disciple of the Kunqu Opera maestro Wang Shiyu. Possessing a handsome stage persona, he is best in playing the ancient scholar roles like Liu Mengmei, Pan Bizheng and Zhang Junrui. He has received the 1st Kunqu Festival of China Performance Award, National Kunqu Outstanding Young Actors Extravaganza Top Ten Actors Award cum Top Ten Essay Award and the 5th Jiangsu Theatre Festival Excellence in Performance Award. In the same year, he visited Japan and performed there as well as toured to France to perform in the UNESCO China Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival. In 2008, he joined hands with the Japanese kabuki maestro Bando Tamasaburo in the Sino-Japanese co-production of Peony Pavilion which attracted wide attention.

Zhao Wenlin

Zhao Wenlin is a National Class One Performer specialised in the xiaosheng (civil male) and guansheng (government official) roles; Zhao Wenlin is a graduate of Suzhou Opera School under the tutelage of Shen Chuanzhi, Yi Chuanyue, Xue Chuangang, Wang Chuanqu, Yu Xihou and Gu Duhuang. With a clear profound voice and vivid performance, he is best at playing repertoires like The Story of the Wooden Hairpin, The Story of the Lute and The Palace of Eternal Life. He is a recipient of multiple awards. The film he starred in Breaking Willow at Yang Guan has been selected for screening in the 60th Venice Film Festival and the 28th Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Lu Jia

Lu Jia is a National Class Two Performer specialised in the liudan (vivacious young girl or servant girl) and wudan roles. In 2003, she became a disciple of renowned Kunqu Opera performing artist Liang Guyin. Smart and bright, she is capable of playing both the civil and military roles with great flexibility. She won the Jiangsu Red Plum Opera Contest Silver Award in 2007.

Qu Binbin

Qu Binbin is a National Class Two Performer specialised in the laosheng (old male) and guansheng roles. He took lessons from famous Kunqu performing artists Ji Zhenhua, Huang Xiaowu, Yao Jikun and Tang Chisun and in 2003 became the disciple of Cai Zhengren. The roles he has played include Du Bao in Peony Pavilion (Youth Version), the title role in Zhu Maichen Divorcing His Wife (coached personally by Zhang Jiqing and Yao Jikun), Chen Yuanli in The Palace of Eternal Life and Li Ruoshui in The Tale of Hairpin and Bracelet. He is also skilful in playing excerpts like Tanci and Seeking Shelter for Her Son.

Liu Chunlin

Liu Chunlin is a National Class Two Performer specialised in the chou (comic) role, Liu Chunlin is a disciple of Liu Yilong, Yao Jisun, Zhu Shuangyuan and Zhu Wenyuan. He joined the National Kunqu Actors Learning Class in 2007 and studied the repertoire The Dog Hole from Wang Shiyao. In 2009 he won the 4th Jiangsu Red Plum Opera Contest Performance Award.

Performing Group

Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu and Su Opera Troupe

Formerly known as Shanghai Minfeng Su Opera Troupe, it is renamed as Su and Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu in 1956 and after the re-establishment in 2001 assumes the current appellation as Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu. In these fifty years, the troupe has presented over a hundred performances of full-length repertoires including Kunqu Operas Peony Pavilion, The Palace of Eternal Life, Tale of Liu Zhiyuan, The Story of Hairpin and Bracelet, The Story of the Wooden Hairpin and Su Operas The Story of the Most Famous Beauty and The Five Girls plus over two hundred excerpts. It has also nurtured four generations of Kunqu performing artists among whom Zhang Jiqing and Wang Fang, both recipients of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre are the most outstanding. In 2005, Wang Fang won the Plum Blossom Award the second time. The troupe has participated in many Kunqu Opera festivals as well as the 2nd and 6th China Arts Festival. It has also garnered over twenty awards in various festivals and contests including National Kunqu Young Actors Exchange, National Kunqu New Repertoire Spectacular, 1st and 2nd China Kunqu Festival and National Kunqu Outstanding Young Performer Contest. The troupe has toured many countries and regions in Europe, America and Asia performing to wide acclaim. In 2004, the troupe joined hands with famous writer Bai Xianyong in presenting a youth version of Peony Pavilion which aroused wide attention and set off an upsurge for Kunqu Opera.



Information provided by Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu and Su Opera Troupe

Ticketing

1–2/8 (Sat–Sun)
7:30pm

Grand Theatre,
Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Prices price01$420 price02$320 price03$220 price04$120


2/8 (Sat)
2:30pm

Grand Theatre,
Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Prices price01$280 price02$200 price03$140 price04$100
seatplan
  • With Chinese and English surtitles
  • Please refer to the Extension Activities page for details of extension activities
  • Each performance lasts approx. 2 hours and 15 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


Please click here for discount scheme details.

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