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Beijing troupe to perform Hebei Clapper Opera next week

     Hebei Clapper Opera Troupe of Beijing will be in Hong Kong next week to launch the "Chinese Clapper Opera Series" presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

     Featuring many national class one performers and winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the troupe's programme will include a full-length production of "The Injustice Done to Dou E" on Friday, July 3; an excerpt of "Capturing Sanlang Alive" and a full-length production of "The Bitten Mark" on Saturday, July 4; and excerpts of "Wu Han Killing His Wife", "Kou Zhun with His Boots on His Back" and "Du Shiniang" on Sunday, July 5. All performances will start at 7.30pm at the Theatre, Hong Kong City Hall. All lyrics and dialogue will have Chinese and English subtitles.

     Clapper Opera originated from the Yellow River Delta region of Tongzhou in Shaanxi, Puzhou in Shanxi, and Shaanzhou in Henan. During the transition years between the Ming and Qing regimes, political turbulence gave rise to mass exodus from Shanxi and Shaanxi. Also, as a general rule, operatic troupes often followed the routes of merchants. Many schools of clapper opera, with Qinqiang in the lead, were thus introduced to the area of what is Beijing and Tianjin today. Between 1841 and 1860, local troupes in Hebei, after having assimilated and converted the theatrical features of Qinqiang, gave birth to a new clapper opera variant, sung in the dialect of Hebei, which was formally renamed "Hebei Clapper Opera" after 1949.

     The interactions between the two stylistic schools, the "localised Qinqiang" performed by Hebei artists and the Qinqiang troupes coming from Shanxi and Shaanxi, had caused occasional confrontation and collaboration and spawned a new, powerful and flourishing sub-genre in Chinese theatre.

     From the 1870s onwards, there was a popular trend in theatre production, called "liang xia guo" or "mixed frying". Troupes performed both Hebei clapper opera and Peking opera on the same stage. The close collaboration between the two genres had its benefits. From Peking opera, a large repertory of plays in the military category was absorbed by Hebei clapper opera, so the latter was much strengthened in that respect. In reciprocation, Hebei clapper opera also transplanted many "old" plays originating from Shanxi and Shaanxi, especially those for female roles, into the Peking opera repertory. Many Peking operas seen today and featuring the "dan" in the lead are of this lineage.

     Founded in 1960 with a repertoire of more than 150 productions accumulated 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 given highly acclaimed tours to Greece, Colombia, Korea and Hong Kong. It has also appeared in international theatre festivals to showcase original, new works as well as 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 booking and "Chinese Clapper Opera Series" schemes. Please refer to the programme leaflet for details.

     A pre-performance talk will be held at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 2, at the AC1, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Admission to the talk is free and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The talk will be conducted in Putonghua. Audiences are welcome to attend.

     Other attractions in the "Chinese Clapper Opera Series" include "Clapper Opera of Shanxi" (August 26-28) and "Clapper Opera Showcase" (September 28-30).

     For enquiries about the programme, call 2268 7325 or visit 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

Ends/Friday, June 26, 2009

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