The Leisure and Cultural Services Department's Chinese Opera Festival 2010 presents the Sichuan Opera Theatre of Chengdu in late June. This is an opportunity for Hong Kong audiences to enjoy the multiple singing patterns and exotic charm of Sichuan opera.
The Sichuan Opera Theatre of Chengdu is a professional performing art troupe of renown in China, its lineage tracing back to the famous Sanqing Club Theatre Company of the early 20th century. The theatre will be here with its outstanding cast, which includes winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre – Chen Qiaoru and Sun Puxie - and guest actors Cai Shaobo, Wang Yumei, Wang Chao and Ma Li.
For the coming Hong Kong tour, the troupe will perform one of the "Four Great Plays" of the Sichuan opera repertory, "The Reincarnation of a Beauty", and excerpts from "The Jealous First Wife" (gaoqiang/high pitch), "The Tailor" (dengxi/ lantern opera), "The Long Journey through the Snow" (tanxi/ clapper opera), "Chasing the Boat on the Autumn River" (high pitch) and "The Son Who Harbours Two Ulterior Motives" (huqin/ singing accompanied by a Chinese bowed fiddle).
"The Reincarnation of a Beauty" is taken from the "nanxi" (opera of southern China) repertory of more than 400 years ago. The production highlights the masterly skills of Sichuan opera such as "swift changing of face", "spitting fire", "the magic candle", "the disappearing broad sword", "eye to eye" and "shadow fighting". These amazing stunts and tricks add special interest to the story about love transcending the worlds of the dead and the living. The unique format of having a background chorus, percussion and solo singing together makes this production an excellent example of Sichuan opera. Another attraction consisting of five operatic excerpts will provide the audience with an opportunity to enjoy the multifaceted charms of Sichuan opera.
Sichuan opera is one of China's oldest regional theatrical forms, found in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and other provinces. In its 300-year history, Sichuan opera assimilated the vocal features of other genres in China and, combined with the vernacular features of the local dialect, its sung music has grown from one singing style into a hybrid of five mutually non-exclusive styles: "kunqiang" (kunqu opera singing style), "gaoqiang" , "huqin", "tanxi" and "dengxi". It is therefore a rare gem among the 300 or more Chinese operatic genres.
There is always an element of surprise, while stunts and sleights of hand are plentiful. As for the formulaic performances of the supporting roles, they show distinctive personalities through "masterly skills" such as "swift changing of face" and "spitting fire".
Details of the performances are as follows:
June 25 (Fri) Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre
June 26 (Sat) Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
"The Reincarnation of a Beauty"
The shows start at 7.30pm. Tickets priced at $280, $220, $160 and $100 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessions will be granted to senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. (Limited tickets for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients are available on a first-come, first-served basis.) A Chinese Opera Festival 2010 group discount is available; please check the details in the programme booklets.
For programme enquiries, call 2268 7325; for ticketing enquiries and reservations, call 2734 9009. Internet bookings are available at www.urbtix.hk. For credit card telephone bookings, call 2111 5999. Visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/cp for more information on the programme.
"Exhibition on Categorically Unique - The Masterly Skills of Sichuan Opera" will be held from June 1 to 16 at the Foyer, Ko Shan Theatre. Admission is free.
Ends/Thursday, June 3, 2010