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Wu opera crosses line between martial arts and civil repertory

     Wu opera is distinguished by its liveliness, particularly in its adept use of martial arts and dance. The music is typically high-flung, sonorous in tone, brisk and crisp, with a repertory covering a wide range of subject matter that reflects the life of common people and tells of the legendary figures in Chinese folklore. Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Chinese Opera Festival 2013 will bring three Wu opera performances in July to Hong Kong audiences.

     Wu opera is Zhejiang's second major regional operatic genre. It is also known as Jinhua opera because it first grew in popularity there, but its environs also include Quzhou, Lishui, Taizhou and Jiande in Zhejiang, and extend to Jindezhen in Jiangxi. In terms of vocal style it is a hybrid of Gaoqiang, Kunqiang, Luantan, Huixi, Tanhuang and Shidiao. However, it generally belongs to the Luantan vocal system and provenance.

     Wu opera choreography tends to integrate the "linear" with the "circular", meaning that there is greater force and emotion expressed by its curvilinear movement. Another characteristic is that Wu opera often crosses the line between the "martial" and "civil" repertories. For example, in the civil repertory of "On Broken Bridge" from "The Legend of the White Snake", actors playing the White Snake, Green Snake and Xu Xian need to deliver acrobatic stunts such as "the snake slither", "the headlong flip", "swift leap-and-kneel", "rolling off the back", "tiger pouncing" and others.

     The Zhejiang Wu Opera Research Centre was founded in 1956 with a mission to salvage and revive the traditional art of Wu opera. Its repertory and archives built up in the process include more than 800 plays and playlets, over 3 000 libretti for various vocal styles and set tunes, and records of mask designs specifically used for Wu opera as well as costume designs. The Centre's troupe has been graced by many of the greatest artists of the genre including Xu Ruying, Ge Suyun, Zheng Lanxiang, Wu Guangyu, Chen Meilan, Zhang Jianmin, Zhu Yuanhao, Huang Weilong, Zheng Lifang and others. Among them, Chen Meilan was the winner of two Plum Blossom Awards for Chinese Theatre. At the Festival, Chen Meilan and her talented protge Yang Xiayun will give bravura performances of their vocal and martial art skills, which should not to be missed.

     Details of the performances are as follows:

July 5 (Friday) 7.30pm
Programme: "The Legend of the White Snake"
Main cast: Wu Wenling, Yang Xiayun, Wang Xiarong, Lou Sheng

July 6 (Saturday) 2.30pm
Programme: Excerpts of "Catching Pang De in the Water", "The Boundary Pass", "Burning Zidu Alive" and "The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea"
Main cast: Yang Xiayun, Chen Xingshun, Lou Sheng, Zhou Hongwei

July 6 (Saturday) 7.30pm
Programme: Excerpts of "The Meeting by the River","Peony Rises to the Challenge", "Executing His Own Son", "Mu Guiying Breaking through the Army Formation in Front of the Palace"
Main cast: Chen Meilan, Zhu Yuanhao, Huang Weilong, Zheng Lifang, Yang Xiayun, Lou Sheng

     All performances will be staged at the Auditorium, Kwai Tsing Theatre. Tickets priced from $100 to $280 are now available at all URBTIX outlets, on the Internet and by Telephone Credit Card Booking. Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come, first-served basis). For detailed information about group booking and package discount schemes, please refer to the programme booklet or the individual programme leaflet.

     For programme enquiries, please call 2268 7325; for ticketing enquiries, please call 2734 9009. For telephone credit card booking, please call 2111 5999. Internet booking is available at . For more information, please visit: l.

     Some extension activities with free admission will be held to tie in with the Wu opera performances:

Artists on Their Art: The Unique Performing Features of Wu opera
July 4 (Thursday) 7.30pm
AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Speakers:Zhu Yuanhao, Yan Lixin

Wu opera - A Crossover of the "Martial" and the "Civil" Styles of Presentation
May 28 - 31          Foyer Exhibition Area,
                     Hong Kong Cultural Centre
June 9 - July 6      Foyer, Kwai Tsing Theatre
May 26 - June 7      Foyer, Tsuen Wan Town Hall

Ends/Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:35


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