The revitalised Yau Ma Tei Theatre (YMTT) has been converted into a performing arts venue for the promotion of Cantonese opera. The grand opening of the theatre took place on July 17 and is being followed by a fortnight-long series of celebration programmes. As one of the celebration programmes, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) is screening several beloved Cantonese opera classics that had been played at the YMTT.
The programme, entitled "Opera Sight and Sound at Yau Ma Tei Theatre", will screen two films at the Cinema of the HKFA this weekend. "Three Trials of the Number One Scholar's Wife" (1958), a romantic tragedy starring Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin, and "The Heroes and the Beauty" (1962), featuring the beautiful merging of stage and screen, and starring Lam Kar-sing and Fung Wong Nui, will be shown at 7.30pm on Saturday (July 28) and Sunday (July 29) respectively.
A Grade 2 historic building, the YMTT is an integral part of the Yau Ma Tei community and has also witnessed the development of Hong Kong cinema. Opened in June 1930, the YMTT is the only pre-World War II cinema building that remains in the urban area. It is characterised by mixed Chinese and Western design including its Chinese pitched roof, an art deco façade and Dutch gable walls. Its most striking features are the two pillars at the front entrance, engraved with crying and laughing masks, as well as the theatre's proscenium arch. The theatre was once a popular spot for film buffs to see their favourite stars on-screen.
Director Chiang Wai-kwong's Cantonese opera film "Three Trials of the Number One Scholar's Wife" is one of the best works in the partnership of Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin. It tells the dramatic story of a suffering maid, played by Pak, and her husband, played by Yam. The latter, despite being a Number One Scholar, is unable to save his wrongly prosecuted wife, giving a twist to the familiar plot.
In glorious colour with a full gongs-and-drums score, director Wong Hok-sing's "The Heroes and the Beauty" features several elaborate staged scenes with bravura opera manoeuvres, skilfully performed by the leads and other cast members. Played by opera star Fung Wong Nui, a princess decides to take revenge after discovering her past. She renounces her engagement with the character played by Lam Kar-sing, and marries Chan Kam-tong, who is actually her brother without her knowledge.
The films are in Cantonese without subtitles.
Tickets priced at $40 are now available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 63", which is distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2012ymtt/2012ymtt_index.html.
Ends/Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A film still from "Three Trials of the Number One Scholar's Wife" (1958).
A film still from "The Heroes and the Beauty" (1962).