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Kunqu opera studio theatre productions to showcase art form's legacy and breakthroughs

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has invited Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre to perform for the Chinese Opera Festival 2013. Led by famous Kunqu opera artist Shi Xiaomei, class one performers will bring to Hong Kong "The Peach Blossom Fan", which portrays a heart-rending tragedy of two lovers during a time of political upheavals in the Ching Dynasty. Outstanding young actors of the theatre company will also perform exquisite excerpts from "The Dream of the Red Mansion", providing an impressive showcase of the young blood in this age-old performing art form.

     Over the long period of its development, Kunqu opera has come to encompass diverse art and cultural forms including literature, music, dance, fine art, martial arts and acrobatics. A Kunqu opera performance may include poetry, various types of prose, string and wind ensembles, gong-and-drum music, singing accompanied only by clappers, and more. Movements are immaculately executed, with different parts of the body following specific routines, such as hand, eye and body movements and steps, and the use of "hand-wrist turns" and "flowing sleeves". A table and two chairs are enough to constitute the mise en scène from which numerous scenarios take place to evoke the audience's most vivid imaginations. Costumes and make-up meanwhile range from subtle to florid to emphasise the contrasting personalities of the characters. It is therefore a genre that is capable of the richest interpretation. In recent years, the more experimental form of studio theatre has emerged in Kunqu opera, using a more compact, exquisite, delicate and unique form to attract audiences. While exploring breakthroughs, it is also upholding the legacy of the traditional art of Kunqu opera.

     Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Theatre was established in 1956. The theatre company's performers have been recruited from two groups: the generation of performers who were given stage names by their masters with the character "Ji", and graduates of the 67th and 85th Kunqu Class of Jiangsu Theatre Institute. Their great skills and artistic competence support a complete range of role types for all kinds of productions. The style of southern Kunqu is distinctive in the company's performance. It has a broad repertoire consisting of traditional and innovative pieces. Its most popular traditional pieces include "The Peony Pavilion", "The Peach Blossom Fan", "Zhu Maichen Divorcing His Wife", "Injustice Done to Suniang", "The Jade Hairpin", "The Story of the Burning Incense" and "The Embroidered Dress". Numerous performers of the company have been awarded reputable prizes including the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre, the Wenhua Award, and the Kunqu Promotion Award jointly given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Chinese Ministry of Culture. The company's frequent touring performances to Europe, America and Southeast Asia have been highly acclaimed by experts and audiences.  

     Details of the performances are as follows:

July 12 to 14 (Friday to Sunday), 7.30pm
Programme: "The Peach Blossom Fan"

July 13 and 14 (Saturday and Sunday), 2.30pm
Programme: Excerpts from "The Dream of the Red Mansion" - "Daiyu Taking Leave of Her Father", "The Deal", "Recognising the Lock", "The Scheming and Manipulative Xifeng" and "Reading the Story of the West Chamber Together".

     All performances will be staged at the Studio Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Tickets with prices ranging from $100 to $360 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). 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

     Conducted in Putonghua, an experience-sharing session with young Kunqu opera actors will be held at 5.30pm on July 13 and 14 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Studio Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Speakers Shan Wen, Shi Xiaming, Xu Sijia and Zhang Zhengyao and other young Kunqu opera actors will talk on the topic "On the Artistic Nuances and Depths of 'The Dream of the Red Mansion'". Admission is free.

Ends/Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 10:00


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