The Leisure and Cultural Services Department will present in July the "Chinese Clapper Opera Series", a collection of different genres of clapper opera (bangzi).
The series will begin with productions of the Hebei Clapper Opera Troupe of Beijing. It will perform a full-length production "The Injustice Done to Dou E" on Friday, July 3; an excerpt "Capturing Sanlang Alive" and a full-length production "The Bitten Mark" on Saturday, July 4; and excerpts "Killing His Wife", "Kou Zhun with His Boots on His Back" and "Du Shiniang" on Sunday, July 5. All the performances will start at 7.30pm at the Theatre, Hong Kong City Hall. All lyrics and dialogue will be with Chinese and English subtitles.
Clapper opera is one of the four major vocal genres of traditional Chinese theatre. Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, a massive migration from the Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan regions took place as people fled from the bandits plaguing the area and moved eastward before settling in Henan, Hebei, Tianjin and Beijing. They brought with them their operatic traditions, which soon evolved with the local customs, dialects and music of their new homes, giving birth to a new theatrical genre: clapper opera (bangzi).
On stage, clapper opera is noted for its "emotive singing, and touching and heartrending qualities". The music may be strident, robust, rousing, or tragic, and the audience tends to be totally absorbed in the story. The libretti cater to plebeian tastes, with less of the poetry and emphasis on elegant style as in other operatic genres. Unlike Peking opera and kunqu, the facial expressions and body movements of clapper opera are more free, less stylised, more impassioned, and more exaggerated.
Throughout the Qing Dynasty, variants of clapper opera held sway in theatres in northern China. These subgenres, which numbered a few dozen, helped to keep the theatre tradition of northern China thriving by continuously injecting new life into it. It has also tremendously influenced the development of Peking opera in terms of repertory or artistic provenance.
Founded in 1960 and accumulating a repertory of more than 150 productions over the years, the Hebei Clapper Opera Troupe of Beijing has groomed many performing artists with national accreditation as well as an outstanding creative team. Apart from performing in arts festivals and variety shows in China, it has also made highly acclaimed tours to Greece, Colombia, Korea and Hong Kong, appearing in international theatre festivals, showcasing original, new works and performing all-time favourites from the traditional category. The founding company director was the famous clapper opera virtuoso Li Guiyun.
Tickets for performances by the Hebei Clapper Opera Troupe of Beijing priced at $100, $160 and $240 are now available at URBTIX outlets. Senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients may have 50% off (limited quotas for students and CSSA recipients on a first-come, first-served basis). A maximum discount of 20% is offered for group bookings and "Chinese Clapper Opera Series" schemes. Please refer to the programme leaflet for details.
Other attractions in the "Chinese Clapper Opera Series" include "Clapper Opera of Shanxi" (August 26 to 28) and "Clapper Opera Showcase" (September 28 to 30).
For enquiries about the programme, call 2268 7325 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/cp . Ticketing enquiries and reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Tickets can also be booked online at www.urbtix.hk .
Ends/Monday, June 1, 2009