Gan opera performances to draw on art form's 500 years of history
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department's Chinese Opera Festival will present Gan opera, a regional Chinese opera genre with more than 500 years of history, in August. Inscribed onto the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China, Gan opera is a genre with a wide variety of vocal styles, having evolved from "yiyangqiang", one of the four major southern vocal styles in the Ming dynasty, and having taken on influences from "kunqiang" and "tanqiang" plays at different stages.
The main vocal types of Gan opera include "gaoqiang", which has components of "yiyangqiang" and "qingyangqiang", and "tanqiang", which has components of the "erhuang" (sentimental), "xipi" (lively), "wennanci" (folk narration music) and "kunqiang" (localised Kunqu vocal) styles.
Visiting Hong Kong, Gan Opera Theatre of Jiangxi Province will bring a selection of Gan opera classics for its performances. In "The Injustice Done to Dou E", Tu Linghui, dubbed "Number One Performer of the Flowing Sleeves Act", will externalise the protagonist's sense of injustice through the masterly skills of "whirling long hair while kneeling and turning" and "stutter steps", which can only be found in "qingyangqiang". The performance for the Madame Cui role in "A Glorious but Elusive Dream" is a combination of the "sheng" (male), "dan" (female), "jing" (painted face) and "chou" (comic) roles. It is a highlight of Gan opera's "tanqiang" plays. In "The Story of the Wooden Hairpin", one of the "Great Four" works in southern opera, the female lead in a "dan" role needs to have an excellent command of "flowing sleeves" to express the internal drama of the protagonist. "Studying Together at Night" is an excerpt unique to the Gan opera version of "The Butterfly Lovers", and it describes the warmth of friendship and the love growing between the two through sweet vocal delivery. "Wandering in the Garden and Waking from a Dream" from "The Resurrection" is sung in the Jiangxi style of "yiyangqiang", harking back to the Jiangxi background of the original librettist, Tang Xianzu. Renowned Gan opera artists to perform in Hong Kong also include Huang Haihong, Li Weide and Yang Kaizhen.
Details of the performances are as follows:
"The Story of the Wooden Hairpin"
Excerpts: "A Glorious but Elusive Dream", "Studying Together at Night", "Meng Liang Seeks Military Aid", "The Resurrection"
"The Injustice Done to Dou E"
All shows will be staged at 7.30pm at the Theatre, Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $240, $160 and $100 are now available at all URBTIX outlets, on the Internet and by telephone credit card booking. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. (Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come, first-served basis.) Please refer to the programme booklet for group and package booking discount schemes.
For programme enquiries, please call 2268 7325, or visit www.cof.gov.hk/2012/eng/prog10.php. For ticketing enquiries, please call 2734 9009. For telephone credit card bookings, please call 2111 5999. For Internet bookings, please visit www.urbtix.hk.
The following extension activities with free admission will be held to tie in with the performances:
"Artists on Their Art: Tracing the Provenance of Gan Opera"
August 2 (Thursday), 7.30pm
Recital Hall, 8/F, High Block, Hong Kong City Hall
August 4 (Saturday), 2.30pm
Foyer, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Exhibition: "The Art of Gan Opera"
July 18 to August 5
Foyer, Hong Kong City Hall
Ends/Monday, July 16, 2012