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A Showcase of Role Types in Cantonese Opera by Yuen Siu-fai

Venue Date & Time Price
Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre
$350, $240, $160, $100

 16.12.2013 (Mon)


Asking for Tea from Song Jiang Killing Yan

Yan Poxi offered herself up for sale in order to have money to bury her deceased father. So she becomes the concubine of Song Jiang who puts her up in the Black Dragon Residence. The lascivious Zhang Wenyuan, who happens to pass by, catches her beautiful face and is enamoured of her. Under the pretext of borrowing a cup of tea to quench his thirst, he makes his advances and so starts an adulterous affair.

Yuen Siu-fai: Zhang Wenyuan
Chan Wing-yee: Yan Xijiao

Playwright: So Yung

The Monkey King Thrice Beats the Bony Ghost

Monk Tripitaka and his three disciples are on their way to the West to get the Buddhist scriptures. They pass by a deserted mountain where the demon, Bony Ghost, makes its haunt. It wants to eat the Monk because his flesh gives demons immortality. The Bony Ghost’s tricks can fool the Monk but not Wukong the Monkey King, who beats it up three times. The innocuous Monk finds it unforgivable, so he sends Wukong away in anger. Later the Monk is captured by the Bony Ghost. Wukong hears of this, and instead of bearing his master a grudge, comes to his rescue. He crushes the Bony Ghost to pieces and saves the Monk before the party of four continues their way to the West.

Wan Fei-yin : Bony Ghost
Jim Ho-fung :  Wukong the Monkey King
Kwok Chun-sing : Monk Tripitaka
Leung Wai-hong : Zhu Wuneng
Yuen Mo : Sha Wujing

Playwright: Yuen Siu-fai

Chisang Town

Bao Zheng is abandoned by his parents when he was young. Wu Miaozhen, his sister-in-law, raise him and they are very close. Bao Zheng loves his nephew Bao Mian as his own brother. However, when Bao Mian grows up and becomes a civil official, he embezzles 40,000 taels of relief funds. He also murders people to cover his crime. Bao Mian enforces the law and executes him. Before execution, Bao Zheng goes to the prison to see his nephew, enlightening him of what virtue is. When Miaozhen learns the news of his son being executed, she hurries to Chisang Town to confront Bao Zheng. She makes a scene, wailing and whining. It is indeed excruciating for Bao Zheng to kill his own nephew, but justice has to be done. He apologizes and explains to his sister-in-law that he is incorruptible when handling public affairs. Edified, Miaozhen reconciles with Bao Zheng.

Yuen Siu-fai : Bao Zheng
Liu Kwok-sum: Wu Miaozhen
Lai Yiu-wai: Bao Mian

Playwright: Yuen Siu-fai


17.12.2013 (Tue)


Romance of the Phoenix Tower

Playwright: Tsui Chi-long

Princess Hongluan has been sent to the Kingdom of Jin north of the border as an act of appeasement when she was young. She grows up on Jin land and falls in love with General Yelu Junxiong. But soon she is to return to Song land. On the way, they meet bandits. The Princess falls into a river. Now there is a family by the name of Ni, whose father Ni Si’an forces his daughter, Xiutian, to marry Shang Cunxiao. Xiutian refuses to comply and throws herself into the river. Si’an picks up Princess Hongluan, who has lost her memory, instead. Si’an passes her for his own daughter, and takes her with him to the Shang Residence for the betrothal discussion. On the other hand, Xiutian was saved by Lord Di and treated as Princess Hongluan. What will happen to these two mismatches?

Lee Lung: Yelu Junxiong
Wan Fei-yin: Princess Hongluan
Yuen Siu-fai: Lady Shang
Leung Wai-hong: Ni Sian
Chan Ka-ming: Ni Xiutian
Lai Yiu-wai: Shang Cunxiao
Jim Ho-fung: Lord Di
Liu Kwok-sum: Shang Jingzhong



18.12.2013 (Wed)


The Orphan of the Zhao's

Playwright: Yip Siu-tak

In the Chun Qiu Period of China, Prime Minister Zhao Dun and General Wei Jiang tried to persuade King Jin Ling from his tyrannical practices. King Jin Ling felt offended and asked another official, Tu Angu, to frame the Prime Minister and killed Zhao’s family and General Wei was sent away to the frontier. Princess Zhuang Ji, wife of Zhao Shuo gave birth to a baby boy in the palace. She tried to save this orphan of the Zhao family and seek help from her doctor, Cheng Ying. Cheng found a Zhao’s family friend, Gongsun Chujiu, and developed a plan. Cheng replaced the Zhao orphan with his own baby boy and gave his boy to Gongsun. He then reported Gongsun’s crime for keeping the orphan of the Zhao family to Tu . Eventually, Tu killed Gongsun and the baby boy, without knowing that it was actually Cheng’s son. 15 years had passed. General Wei returned to the court from the frontier and was informed of the cruel purge. Without knowing the true story, he condemned Cheng as a traitor. Cheng told him the truth and they planned to take revenge. Zhao Wu, the grown up orphan, finally knew his family’s tragic past and killed Tu Angu.

Yuen Siu-fai: Cheng Ying
Wan Fei-yin: Cheng’s wife
Chan Wing-yee: Princess Zhuang Ji
Lee Lung: Zhao Shuo
Yam Bing-yee: The Queen
Leung Wai-hong : Tu Angu
Lai  Yiu-wai : Wei Jiang
Lui Hung-kwong : Zhao Dun
Liu Kwok-sum : Gongsun Chujiu
Johnson Yuen : Han Que
Kwok Chun-sing: Zhao Wu



19.12.2013 (Thu)


The Reunion by a White Hare

Playwright: Tong Dik-sang

Grandpa Li and his wife, both well past their fifties, have three children - namely Hongyi, Hongxin and Sanniang. When the old couple passed away, Hongyi and his wife covet the family estate they leave behind and propose the family estate be divided among the siblings. Sanniang and her husband, Zhiyuan, are allocated the haunted melon patches, and Hongyi counts on the demons there to remove the unwelcome new owners for him. Unwittingly Zhiyuan sets off to take possession of the melon patches, and the old servant Huogong rushes to stop him. With commendable courage Zhiyuan confronts and subdues the melon demon, and brings back its oracular book and powerful sword. Armed with these treasures, Zhiyuan bids farewell to Sanniang before embarking on his military career in the capital. After the departure of Zhiyuan, Hongyi and his wife maltreat the heavily pregnant Sanniang. Eventually, Sanniang gives birth to her son while in the mill and names him Yaoqilang because she has to sever the umbilical cord with her tooth for lack of tools. To protect her child from any harm by Hongyi, Sanniang asks Hongxin to take Yaoqilang away. Ten years later, on a hunting trip with his entourage one day, Yaoqilang chases after a white hare to a well and meets his long-lost mother. By that time both Zhiyuan and Hongxin have already earned some noble titles. With the distinguished gentlemen returning to their hometown, the story ends with a happy reunion between Zhiyuan and Sanniang.

Yuen Siu-fai: Liu Zhiyuan
Wan Fei-yin: Li Sanniang
Leung Wai-hong: Li Hongyi
Chan Ka-ming: Hongyi’s wife
Lai Yiu-wai: Li Hongxin
Liu Kwok-sum: Dou Huogong
Kwok Chun-sing: Yaoqilang
Cheung Kit-ha: Yue Xiuying



20.12.2013 (Fri)


The Death of Zhou Yu
(Traditional Southern School Version)

Playwright: Anonymous

Zhou Yu, the Prime Minister of Wu, tries to lure Liu Bei of Shu to Wu land in order to force him to return Jingzhou, under the pretext that the King of Wu is offering Liu his younger sister’s hand in marriage. Little does Zhou expect that the marriage actually takes place.  He cannot but resort to another scheme, which is to make Liu so enamoured of his new wife that he would forget to return to Shu land. Zhao Yun, a general of Shu, chastises Liu for neglecting state affairs. Brought to his senses, Liu decides to return to Jingzhou and continue with his grand scheme of uniting the country. So Zhou Yu’s second scheme is thwarted as well. His third scheme is to wage a war against Western Sichuan, but when the Wu army passes by Jingzhou, he requests Zhuge Liang, the strategist serving Liu Bei, to open the city gates under a false reason. Zhuge has already set up armies in ambush, and Zhou Yu’s soldiers suffer a humiliating defeat. Zhou is so embittered that he falls ill. On his deathbed, he writes a memorial to the King of Wu in which he laments, “If Zhou Yu suffices, why should there be Zhuge Liang as well?” before he dies with the greatest regret.

Yuen Siu-fai: Zhou Yu (second)
Jim Ho-fung: Zhou Yu (first)
Lee Lung: Zhao Yun
Wan Fei-yin: Sun Shangxiang
Liu Kwok-sum: Liu Bei
Chan Ka-ming: Xiaoqiao
Leung Wai-hong: Zheng Fei
Lui Hung-kwong: Lady Wu , Huang Zhong
Lai Yiu-wai: Qiao Xuan, Wei Yan
Kwok Chun-sing: Sun Quan


 Lyrics and dialogue with Chinese and English surtitles

Programme Length

Running Time: Approx. 3 hours 30 minutes with an intermission



Main : Yuen Siu-fai

Co-starred by: Yuen Mo, Wan Fei-yin, Lui Hung-kwong, Lee Lung, Chan Wing-yee, Leung Wai-hong, Chan Ka-ming, Jim Ho-fung, Liu Kwok-sum, Lai Yiu-wai


(In order of their Chinese names listing. Please refer to leaflets for individual cast of performances)

Role Types

There are strictly distinguished role types in Cantonese Opera, and in the main they are sheng, dan, jing, mo and chou. For sheng (male) roles, it is further divided into xiaosheng (young man), wusheng (military male) and laosheng (old man) roles. For xiaosheng, these are usually handsome young men with a scholarly air.  Wusheng may be subdivided into the changkao wusheng and duankao wusheng. The changkao wusheng requires the actor to put on a full set of armour and wear thick-soled boots. The persona is often a general or commander of an army. Some of the famous characters are Zhou Yu and Zhao Zilong.  The duankao wusheng requires more a show of martial art skills than singing techniques, and the character of Wu Song is a typical example. Laosheng generally refers to older men of integrity.  Since they often wear long beards (su), they are therefore also known as susheng (bearded male).  Dan is a general reference for female roles, and this is subdivided into guimendan (high-born lady), qingyi (virtuous female), daomadan (sword-wielding and horse-riding female), laodan (old woman), xiaodan (young girl) and caidan (comic female) roles. Caidan may be played by male actors in transvestite roles, and the persona depicted is often witty, sassy and brassy. Jing is also known as hualian (painted face), and there are two subcategories: the dahualian (major painted face), and the erhualian (secondary painted face) roles.  The dahualian (also known as tongchui hualian) persona is a man of strong, forthright character, and the actor needs to have very good singing techniques. The representative character is Judge Bao. The erhualian (also known as jiazi hualian) requires both good stylized movements and line delivery, and the persona is either a valiant character or a person of a high social status. The representative characters are Zhang Fei and Cao Cao.  Mo is an old man role, often played by actors wearing beards. Chou is also called the xiaohualian or sanhualian, that is, the actor only has his face partially painted. The persona is someone who gives comic relief, or an ordinary-looking sidekick.  The role does not require good singing skills, but good delivery and acting are important. There are subcategories into the civil type (wenchou) and military type (wuchou).  There is a saying in Chinese operatic circles that “a show is not a show without the comic roles”, which points out the importance of a comic character – despite its supporting status, it adds interest to the narrative flow.


21.12.2013 (Sat)  7:30pm

Rehearsal Room (2), Ko Shan Theatre

Speaker: Yuen Siu-fai

In Cantonese

Free admission. Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis



Tickets available from 4 November onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Telephone Credit Card 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)

Production Team

Please refer to Chinese version.


Programme Enquiries:2268 7325 (LCSD)
                                    9140 7904 (Spring Glory Cantonese Opera Workshop)

Ticketing Enquiries:2734 9009  

Telephone Credit Card 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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