The Golden Cangue, featuring Peking Opera diva Wei Haimin and produced by the GuoGuang Opera Company of Taiwan, is billed as the first Peking Opera adaptation of Eileen Chang's literary classic. The production was acclaimed as one of the 10 best performances at Taiwan's fifth Taishin Arts Awards, and has won critical acclaim in Beijing and Shanghai. Staged in Hong Kong on November 19 and 20, this strikingly beautiful work is a must-see for fans of Chang and Peking Opera.
Eileen Chang is unique in 20th century Chinese literature for her sharp observations and inventive imagery when writing about the female psyche and relations between the two sexes. "The Golden Cangue" is among her most profound work and has been widely adapted for theatre, movie and television drama. Tailor-made for diva Wei Haimin, winner of the coveted Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, this innovative Peking Opera fully shows her outstanding performance and technique to its full potential.
The story centres on Cao Qiqiao, a poor girl who sells sesame oil. Cao marries paralysed, blind Jiang Erye, a second son, for money. She really has an eye for third son Jize but he is only interested in the riches she has received after the family property is divided among the brothers. Trapped by the "cangue" of love and money, Cao's personality becomes twisted, relentlessly tormenting her daughter, son and daughter-in-law in her hatred. The striking dramatisation breaks out of the confines of the printed page to recreate a "character in the round", illuminating Cao's mind through fluid changes of scene and space.
This spectacular epic features some of Taiwan's most established Peking Opera talents, including Wei and Tang Wenhua (who plays Jize), a leading laosheng (older male roles) performer. Artistic director and playwright Wang Anchi is known for her drive to modernise Peking Opera. Director Lee Hsiao-pin has created numerous award-winning productions while stylist Huang Wenying, winner of the Best Art Director at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, completes the extravaganza with elaborate costumes and authentic period sets.
The Beijing Evening News described the production thus: "From acting to stage art, it delineates the 'flamboyant pathos' found in Eileen Chang's works". The Xinhua Net wrote: "A probing, inwardly-gravitating storyline, a script as exquisite as kunqu, stage designs that juxtapose the abstract and the real, a cinematic approach to costume design for character portrayal... many of the audience said excitedly to each other as they walked out of the theatre, 'I had never thought Peking Opera could be like this!'".
Wei Haimin is a world-famous diva in Peking Opera and winner of many coveted awards, including the Outstanding Young Person of the World Award, the Most Outstanding Asian Artists Award, the Shanghai Magnolia Award, four consecutive awards for "Best Actor" in the Golden Awards of Literature and Arts, and two Taiwan Literature and Art Achievement Awards. She became a formal disciple of Mei Baojiu, the famous Peking Opera virtuoso in China (and son of the legendary Mei Lanfang) in 1991, to receive training in the Mei stylistic school. Wei has an engagingly elegant persona, a sweet voice and insightfully sensitive acting.
GuoGuang Opera Company of Taiwan was founded in 1995 with the mission to uphold the legacy of traditional Chinese opera as well as to promote arts education. Since its inauguration, GuoGuang has been striving to retain the outstanding qualities of this traditional art form while forging new works in tandem with the times, particularly with the use of the modern theatre concepts. Its repertoire includes not only traditional classics, but also new and original works that are inspired by topical social issues, literature, history and folklore.
Innovative Peking Opera at its best, The Golden Cangue is one of the programmes of the New Vision Arts Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It will be staged on November 19 and 20 at 7.30pm at the Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium. The programme provides Chinese and English surtitles for lyrics and dialogue. A meet-the-artists session will be held after the performance on November 19.
Tickets priced at $280, $220, $160 and $120 are now available at URBTIX. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Group booking and package discounts of up to 20% are available.
A lecture demonstration on "How to create inspiring female leads: from classic characters of the Mei Lanfang school to Cao Qiqiao and Virginia Woolf's Orlando", will be held on November 16 at 8pm at AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Peking Opera diva Wei Haimin will demonstrate performance and vocal techniques, and discuss her approach to playing different leading roles.
A talk on "Eileen Chang meets Peking Opera - adapting The Golden Cangue for the GuoGuang Opera Company of Taiwan" will be held on November 18 at 8pm at Sha Tin Town Hall Exhibition Gallery. Artistic director and playwright Wang Anchi will explain how she adapted Eileen Chang's elegant, satirical writing for the stage. Director Lee Hsiao-pin will discuss how he broke away from the confines of the printed page to create "characters in the round", while Peking Opera star Wei Haimin will demonstrate how she overcame the challenges of playing complex protagonist Cao Qiqiao.
Both the lecture demonstration and the talk are conducted in Putonghua. Admission is free. Limited seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Programme brochures of the New Vision Arts Festival are available at URBTIX outlets or at the website www.newvisionfestival.gov.hk .
For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044. Credit card telephone booking: 2111 5999. Internet booking can be made at www.urbtix.hk .
Ends/Friday, November 5, 2010
Wei Haimin is a world-famous diva in Peking Opera and winner of many coveted awards. She has an engagingly elegant persona, a sweet voice and insightfully sensitive acting.
Billed as the first Peking Opera adaptation of Eileen Chang's literary classic, "The Golden Cangue" produced by the GuoGuang Opera Company of Taiwan will be staged in Hong Kong on November 19 and 20.