Ticketing

19-20/7 Fri-Sat 7:30pm
21/7 Sun 2:30pm

Grand Theatre, Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District


stage

Price

 $480

 $380

 $280

 $180



With Chinese and English surtitles
Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers will only be admitted at a suitable break.
Please refer to the 'Extension Activities' page for details of extension activities



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.


As an exponent of the performing style of Nankun (Kunqu of the Southern school), the Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre brings to Hong Kong a full version of The Mistake Caused by a Kite and two operatic excerpts at this year’s Chinese Opera Festival. The troupe expects to showcase the charm of this stylistic school to the Hong Kong audience through the consummate artistry of its cast, which includes renowned veteran artists, Representative Bearers of Kunqu Opera as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage, and winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre Shi Xiaomei and Zhang Jidie. The two highly-esteemed artists have reached the age of 70, so it is a rare opportunity indeed to have them gracing the stage of Hong Kong. Also on the cast are two more winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre – Kong Aiping and Li Hongliang – as well as National Class One Performers Zhao Jian and Qian Zhenrong. To have a galactic cast of four winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre in one show spanning three generations of actors in the troupe makes this an unmissable event for those interested in Kunqu Opera.

The Mistake Caused by a Kite was written by Li Yu, a writer of the Qing period. It tells the story of how a kite broken off from its string leads to two marriages, with interesting twists and turns along the way. Peppered with humour and fun, the plot is an attraction in itself for theatre-goers. The full version of the play will be performed by veteran artists of the middle-age generation, led by the President of Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre and renowned actor in chou (comic) roles, Li Hongliang. It promises to be a refreshing and delightful experience. Also prepared for the Hong Kong audience are two excerpts from classics in Kunqu Opera, which offer an emotional spectrum that is typical of the genre.

Co-presenter

19/7 (Fri) 7:30pm

 The Mistake Caused by a Kite



The Mistake Caused by a Kite was written by Li Yu, a writer of the Qing period. This play uses the kite as the thread that runs throughout the play. The structure of the story is close-knit, and the spoken lines are witty. The plotline runs as a comedy of errors, peppered with coincidences and misunderstandings that keep the laughter rolling. The production presented by Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre was first directed by Fan Jixin, veteran artist of the ‘Ji’ generation, and has been innovatively restaged by Mr Fan though following basically the old Kunqu tradition. A point to note is the episodes of Stunned by Her Ugly Looks and The First Marriage Proposal. The comedic effects are numerous, the portrayal of characters flamboyantly funny, and the breakthrough in the performing techniques make this an exponent of the style of Nankun (Kunqu of the Southern school).

Zhan Liehou has two concubines, Mei and Liu, and each has a daughter by him. The elder one, Aijuan, born to Mei, is shrewish and ugly while the younger one Shujuan, born to Liu, is talented and pretty. Han Qizhong, a brilliant and learned young man, has been studying with Qi Youxian and living under the care of the Qi family since his orphaned childhood. One day, at Youxian’s request, Qizhong writes verses on a kite and flies. But it lands in Liu’s garden. Shujuan finds it and with delight responds with a poem in kind. Youxian sends a servant to retrieve the kite. Qizhong sees the poem and is much impressed by it. He writes yet another poem on the kite and asks Youxian to cut it loose when it is in the air, in the hope that it will land in the Zhan Residence’s garden again. This time the kite is found by Aijuan. Things begin going haywire, as misunderstandings and unexpected situations occur, until all ends well and Qizhong marries Shujuan, and Youxian marries Aijuan.



Main Cast: Qian Zhenrong, Li Hongliang, Ji Shaoqing, Zhou Xianghong, Liu Xiao, Gu Jun, Xu Sijia, Qiu Caiping

The running time of the performance is approximately 3 hours including an intermission of 15 minutes.

20/7 (Sat) 7:30pm

 Pursuing Eternal Life from The Story of Two Pearls


This is mainly performed by an actor in zhengdan (leading female) role. The aria she sings is very long, and she needs to express the complex emotions of the protagonist, such as the pain of parting with her son after he was sold, as well as her anguish and anger at the hapless situation brought upon her. Before she commits suicide, she wails at the Zhenwu Temple. The actor needs to utter each cry as if it is torn from a bleeding heart, and each stylised movement is full of delicate details to depict her mental and psychological state.

Having sold her son and parted with her husband, née Guo goes to the Zhenwu Temple on the Taihe Mountain. There she vents tearfully the injustice her family has suffered and entreats the Zhenwu god to vindicate her. After praying, she ends her life by jumping into a pond. Suddenly a heavenly voice speaks, ‘née Guo, your time in the mortal world is not yet over, so you cannot take your life. To save your husband’s life, seek help immediately from Yuan Tiengang, the fortune teller in the capital city. In a few years, both your husband and son shall prosper and your family shall reunite.’



Main Cast: Xu Sijia, Zhou Xin, Zhao Yutao



 Reading His Lover’s Letter from The Story of the West Mansion


When his love, Mu Suhui, is driven away, Yu Shuye falls sick and cannot get out of his bed. That night, with the moon shedding a limpid glow on the academy, Shuye feels the desolation even more. Unable to sleep, he takes out the letter written by Suhui and reads it over and over again, each time he misses her more.



Main Cast: Shi Xiaomei



 The Obsessive Dream from Lanke Mountain


This is mainly performed by an actor in zhengdan (leading female) role. The zhengdan in Kunqu is often described as ‘a female counterpart of the male actor in dahualian (full painted-face) role’, meaning there should be solemnity in gait and flamboyant airs seen in the stylized movements. The excerpt describes the delusional state of née Cui as she teeters between reason and illusion. It is challenging to the thespian skills of the actor. The staging of this scene is ingenious, as the actor’s flitting consciousness must be clearly delivered – and seamlessly so – to convince the audience.

Zhu Maichen’s wife, née Cui, is a snob and disdains her husband for his destitute state. She forces Maichen to sign a letter to divorce her so that she can remarry Carpenter Zhang. One day she learns that Maichen has become the Governor of their native Kuaiji County. On returning home that night, Cui has a wonderful dream: she finds herself wearing the garb of a titled lady, complete with a phoenix coronet and a fringed shawl, and she is addressed as ‘Lady Zhu’. As she is indulging in her fantasy, Zhang appears, holding an axe. She wakes up and realises that it is but a dream.



Main Cast: Xu Yunxiu, Ji Shaoqing, Liu Xiao, Qiu Caiping



 The Drunken Lu Zhishen Wreaking Havoc at the Monastery from Braving Torture to File a Petition


This is mainly performed by an actor in the jing (painted face) role. The actor must show the inebriated state of Lu Zhishen as he executes the martial arts routines of The Eighteen Drunken Arhats, and each Arhat’s expression and form must be delivered in a recognisable state. The fight over the wine bottle between the two actors – jing and chou (comic) role– is full of mischievous fun.

After killing a scoundrel, Lu Zhishen seeks refuge in a Buddhist monastery on Wutai Mountain. He takes the tonsure and stays there for almost a year. But by nature quick-tempered and refusing to be bound, Lu finds it harder and harder to follow the restraining rules of the monastery. One day, while wandering around aimlessly, he catches the sight of a wine vendor. He craves for a drink and approaches the vendor to make a purchase, but is turned down because the vendor does not want to sell wine to a monk. No longer able to hold his agitation, Zhishen snatches the wine, boozes it up and gets drunk in the end. On his way back to the monastery, still heavily drunk, he practices his martial arts playfully, ruining the pavilion on the slope and the monastery’s main gate. His master Zhifeng, knowing that Zhishen’s unruly behaviour will be disproved of, sends him off to seek shelter under the Daxiangguo Temple in the eastern capital, Kaifeng.



Main Cast: Zhao Jian, Ji Shaoqing



 The Soul Departs from The Peony Pavilion


This is a famous play for actors in guimendan (highborn lady) role. The frailty of a dying Du Liniang and her steadfast will in finding her love must be expressed with convincing thespian skills. The aria Ji-Xian-Bin is effectively tear-jerking while the last farewell between the mother and the dying daughter is also deeply moving.

On the evening of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Du Liniang is getting more and more seriously ill. As she lies on her death bed, she instructs her maid Chunxiang to keep her self-portrait in a box after her death and hide it under the rockery in the garden. She also beseeches her mother to bury her body under the plum tree in the backyard. After bidding farewell to her mother, she dies with a hope to get reincarnated.



Main Cast: Kong Aiping, Qiu Caiping, Cong Haiyan



The running time of the performance is approximately 3 hours including an intermission of 15 minutes.

21/7 (Sun) 2:30pm

 Chance Encounter on a Boat from The Peach Blossom Fan


This is an excerpt performed by only three actors – the zhengdan (leading female), wai (supporting old male) and chou (comic) role. All the drama takes place in a small boat on the Yellow River which symbolises the hapless fate of ordinary people amidst political chaos. There is an ingenious balance between animated action and stagnant moments to bring out the vicissitudes in life and the emotional fluctuations of the characters when faced with the uncertainty of fate.

Su Kunsheng is charged with a mission to send a fan to Li Xiangjun on behalf of his friend Hou Chaozong. On his way, he falls into the Yellow River, and is rescued by a boatman. On the boat, he is amazed to find his pupil Li Zhenli there. As the two chat to catch up with one another, they cannot help sighing over the capricious hand of fate on them and the people they know.



Main Cast: Xu Sijia, Sun Jing, Qian Wei



 The Mansion on the Lake from Winning the Hand of the Beauty Nonpareil


The arias sung by the male protagonist, Qin Zhong, are famous pieces for actors in the jinsheng (male scholar) role. His partner on stage is the tavern keeper, whose wit and humour pepper the scene with great fun. The miming movements between the two are so well choreographed that the audience would be amazed by the rapport shown between the two.

The story is about Qin Zhong, an oil vendor, who falls in love with Wang Meiniang, a famous courtesan in the city of Lin’an. One day, while drinking by the West Lake alone, Qin finds out that the beauty he is so much in love with is in fact the most famous courtesan in the city. There and then, he makes up his mind to save every cent he makes in order to have enough money to spend a night with the love of his dream.



Main Cast: Qian Zhenrong, Li Hongliang



 Pursuing the Dream from The Peony Pavilion


This is performed by an actor in guimendan (high born lady) role. The libretto, execution and singing of this excerpt are considered to be exemplary in The Peony Pavilion, and a classic in Kunqu. The three elements are seamlessly tied in this solo performance as the actor externalises the thoughts and emotions of Du Liniang, the young woman pining for the realisation of her dream of love, make this a bravura piece in the repertoire of actor performing guimendan (high born lady) role.

The excerpt follows Du Liniang’s amorous dream in the garden. On waking up from it, she cannot help yearning to relive it. So she goes into the garden again and tries to find the spot where that romantic encounter took place.



Main Cast: Kong Aiping, Cong Haiyan



 Selling His Page from The Legend of the Embroidered Coat


This is an important piece for an actor in chou (comic) role, as the focus is on him, although he is playing against two other actors – the sheng (male) and the mo (supporting) roles. There is equal emphasis on the three parts, thus making the play a typical example of the ‘three-legged cauldron’ shows in the Kunqu Opera tradition. The actor in chou role needs to portray the innocence of the page boy and his unquestioned loyalty for his master. It is therefore heartbreaking to see him finally realising that he has been sold by his heartless master.

Zheng Yuanhe is going to the capital to take the civil service examination. But his total infatuation with the courtesan, Li Yaxian, and the indulgent spending have made him penniless. In order to get more money, he offers up his page boy, Laixing, for sale to the Residence of Minister Cui through negotiations by the tavern owner. When Yuanhe returns to the tavern, he is told that Laixing is sold for ten taels of silver only. He is totally disappointed but there is nothing he can do now.



Main Cast: Zhang Jidie, Zhou Xin



 Looking at the Predictions of the Dynastic Fate of Ming from The Iron Headgear


In this excerpt, the character of the last emperor of Ming, Chongzhen, is performed by an actor in xiaoguansheng (younger, crown-wearing male) role, but he must at the same time express the regal gait of an older counterpart as he is portraying an emperor. The singing and delivery of spoken lines must be crisp to convey the fear and helplessness of an emperor facing his demise. The actor playing the eunuch is a chou (comic) role actor, yet despite the designation, he must show the wisdom of someone who has is worldly wise and is well aware of the sad fate coming.

The background of the story is set in the last years of the Ming period in the 17th century. The country is on the brink of breaking up. Emperor Chongzhen, led by the spirit of the Taoist priest Tieguan (Iron Headgear), arrives at the national treasury which has never been opened through the thirteen reigns since the Ming regime was established more than two hundred years ago. Chongzhen orders the guard eunuch to open the vault door. A wooden box appears, sealed with the imperial mark of the First Emperor of Ming. Lying in the box is a scroll of the ‘Iron Headgear Painting’, which is encrypted with mysterious prophesies of the rise and fall of the dynasty.



Main Cast: Shi Xiaomei, Zhao Jian, Li Hongliang

The running time of the performance is approximately 3 hours including an intermission of 15 minutes.



Information provided by Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre


Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre

The Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre is located in the former complex of the Jiangning Institute in the Chaotian Palace in Nanjing. Its current Honorary Director is the famous Kunqu virtuoso, Zhang Jiqing, and its Executive Director is Li Hongliang. The company has a cast made up of artists who joined the performing arts in the 1950s and distinguished by ‘Ji’ as the middle character of their stage names, as well as graduates of the Jiangsu Drama School. These artists have solid groundwork and are capable of performing the full range of roles in Kunqu Opera. Their distinct artistic style is recognised as the Nankun (Kunqu of the Southern School). The company’s veteran actors include many winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, such as Zhang Jidie, Shi Xiaomei, Hu Jinfang, Kong Aiping and Li Hongliang. While upholding the legacy, the company also strives to create new productions. It has a stock repertory that includes The Peony Pavilion, The Peach Blossom Fan, Zhu Maichen Divorcing His Wife, Injustice Done to Suniang, The Story of the Jade Hairpin, The Story of Burning Incense, The Legend of the Embroidered Coat, The Peach Blossom Fan (1699), The Butterfly Lovers, The Dream of Nanke etc.. In a bid to preserve the Kunqu Opera heritage and spread it to all parts of the world, the company been on tour to Europe, the US, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to give performances and lectures.

House Programme


houseProgramme05

19-20/7 Fri-Sat 7:30pm Grand Theatre, Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District
21/7 Sun 2:30pm Grand Theatre, Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District
stage

Price

 $480

 $380

 $280

 $180

With Chinese and English surtitles
Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers will only be admitted at a suitable break.
Please refer to the 'Extension Activities' page for details of extension activities

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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