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Message from the Playwright and Director
Synopsis
Programme Length
Production Team
Pre-performance Talk (In Cantonese)
Post-performance Talk (In Cantonese)
Ticketing and Concession
Enquiries
A Handful of Snow – A new Cantonese Opera adapted from an ancient libretto

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A tale of constancy, integrity and sacrifice -
A Handful of Snow

3-4 November 2011 (Thu-Fri) 7:30pm
Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre
Tickets: $320, 260, 180, 100

Location Map
 

26 November 2011 (Sat) 7:30pm
Auditorium, Tuen Mun Town Hall
Tickets: $280, 220, 160, 100

Location Map
 

Playwright and Director: Yuen Siu-fai
Producer: Johnson Yuen
Main Cast: Ng Chin-fung, Wan Fai-yin, Yuen Siu-fai, Johnson Yuen, Yam Bing-yee, Sun Kim-long, Liu Kwok-sum, Lui Hung-kwong, Leung Wai-hong, Lai Yiu-wai

Lyrics and dialogue with Chinese and English surtitles

 
Message from the Playwright and Director

On ‘The Eighteen Libretti’ in Cantonese Opera                                                                 Yuen Siu-fai
'The Eighteen Libretti of Cantonese Opera’ is a collective term that can be found in many archives. Some even list out the plays in numerical order according to the ‘numbers’ found in the titles, such as A (One) Handful of Snow, Second Blossoming of the Plum, Three Judges at Court, Four Scholars etc. This has become such a firmly rooted idea in the Cantonese opera circles that most would presume the ‘list’ to exist. This was what I was given to believe when I became a novice in the genre, and it still seems to ring true today.  But I have always had my doubts.  Can there be such a fortuitous assemblage, with all eighteen popular works of Cantonese opera bearing figures in their titles to make up a list like this?
 
I took it with a pinch of salt then, and that pinch has continued to grow over time. Yet ongoing research shows that most of the works in the list enjoyed a high degree of popularity in China, while some have seldom been staged in Hong Kong.  The reason is easy to see: for the last hundred years or so, the repertoire of Cantonese opera has consisted mainly of stories about romantic love. As a result, many well-written plays were either overlooked or brushed aside.  And this, is the tragedy of Cantonese opera as a genre.

I knew that this was a major problem back in 1970, and have been trying to bring back plays that are not about romantic love, such as The Orphan of the Zhao’s, Fifteen Strings of Cash, The Four Scholars, A Ghostly TaleThree Duels Against the Skeleton Demon etc.  My intention is of course not to drive the romantic love category out of the Cantonese opera repertoire; rather it is to reinstate the well-written plays so as to provide actors a wider spectrum of roles, and give the audience more choices.

This edition of A Handful of Snow is based on the novella of the same name which was published in the 1637.  I am reviving it to bring this famous play, which was one of the representative works in the Cantonese opera repertoire, to the audience today.

 
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Synopsis

The story takes place in the Ming Dynasty. Mo Huaigu has a priceless family heirloom, a goblet of white jade called ‘A Handful of Snow’.  It has become an object of desire for the powerful but corrupt court minister, Yan Shifan, who is also the son of the notorious Prime Minister Yan Song. Tang Qin, a retainer in the Mo family, ogles Mo’s beautiful concubine, Xueyan.  So he urges Yan to ask Mo for the goblet, with the ulterior motive that Mo would be persecuted and killed. Mo presents Yan with a fake, but Tang sees through this, and Yan sends his soldiers to hunt it down as well as to take in Mo. Mo tells his wife to take his son, Mo Hao, and the goblet and go in hiding, while he, Xueyan and a faithful servant, Mo Cheng, would go to seek the protection of General Qi Jiguang, the Commander of the Imperial Army. But the three are caught by Yan, who wants Mo’s head. General Qi cannot bring himself to execute Mo.  The servant proposes that since he bears a resemblance to his master, he will die in his place. On seeing the head, Tang Qin insists that this is not Mo’s. Yan orders Lu Bing, Captain of the Imperial Guard, to investigate, while Tang present in a joint hearing. 

At the trial, when everyone else confirm that the head belongs to Mo, Tang insists that it does not, so as to make Xueyan yield to his wishes. Xueyan finds him despicable, but in order to avenge for the whole family, she tells Tang she will marry him.  On the wedding night, she kills him with a knife hidden on her. Captain Lu sends her aid and helps her escape.
 
Mo’s son presents the heirloom to the Emperor and at the same time, petitions His Majesty for justice to be done. Yan is found guilty of incriminating the innocent for his own selfish desire, and Mo Huaigu, General Qi et al are declared innocent and reinstated.  Mo returns home after this harrowing experience, and is reunited with his wife, concubine, his son and the rest of the family.

Mo Huaigu: Ng Chin-fung  
Xueyan: Wan Fai-yin   
Tang Qin: Yuen Siu-fai
Lu Bing: Johnson Yuen   
Madam Fu: Yam Bing-yee  
Mo Cheng: Sun Kim-long 
Yan Shifan: Leung Wai-hong  
Zhang Long: Lui Hung-kwong 
Guo Yi: Wong Sze-long
Qi Jiguang: Liu Kwok-sum   
Mo Hao: Lai Yiu-wai

 
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Programme Length

Running Time: Approx. 3 hrs 15 mins with an intermission

 
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Production Team

Playwright and Director: Yuen Siu-fai
Producer: Johnson Yuen
Troupe Manager: Wong Siu-sang
Stage Manager/ Lighting Designer: Leung Wai-hong
Percussion Leader: Ko Yun-kuen
Ensemble Leader: Ko Yun-hung

 
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Pre-performance Talk (In Cantonese)

3 October 2011(Mon)7:30pm
Speakers: Yuen Siu-fai, Wan Fai-yin, Johnson Yuen
AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Free Admission. Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis

 
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Post-performance Talk (In Cantonese)

30 November 2011(Wed)7:30pm
Speakers: Ng Chin-fung, Wan Fai-yin, Yuen Siu-fai
AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Free Admission. Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis

 
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Ticketing and Concession

Tickets available from 22 September onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Credit Card Telephone Booking
Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis)

 
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Enquiries

Programme Enquiries:2268 7325
Ticketing Enquiries:2734 9009
Credit Card Telephone Booking:2111 5999
Internet Booking:www.urbtix.hk

The presenter reserves the right to substitute artists and change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary
The contents of this programme do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department

 
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