The Leisure and Cultural Services Department's Chinese Opera Festival 2013 will soon present performances of Sixian opera, a traditional opera form rarely seen in Hong Kong.
Sixian opera is popular in the Hebei and Shanxi regions. It is divided into five sub-genres, known by their geographical spread: East, West, South, North and Middle. The sub-genre that is popular in the region of Shijiazhuang belongs to the Middle category. It was inscribed onto the first national list of intangible cultural heritage in 2006. In 1938, two leading actors of Middle Sixian opera, Liu Kuixian and Wang Zhenchuan, set up the Yushun Troupe, which later became the Shijiazhuang Sixian Opera Troupe of Hebei. The founding of the Yushun Troupe allowed the genre of Sixian opera to be staged regularly. Its repertoire includes over 500 works, most of which belong to the traditional category, while the others are transplanted from the repertoire of other Chinese theatrical genres, such as Laodiao, Xidiao, Huaidiao, Jindiao, Kunqu, Peking opera and Hebei clapper opera. The best known plays in the Middle category of Sixian opera include "The Empty Seal Box", "The White Gauze Robe", "Dreaming of Her Future Husband" and "Chasing Away the Son-in-law".
Sixian opera is distinguished by its fiery earnestness, particularly in character portrayal through a wide range of masterly skills: flinging long hair and flowing long sleeves, various styles of footwork, juggling trays, playing with the beard, spinning the "wings" of the headgear, and other stunts such as routines with boots, handkerchiefs, teeth, whips, bowls and more. As for the music, it basically uses Chinese strings for accompaniment. The vocal style adopts the "banqiang" form in the main, and may be delivered in the "court style" or the "yue style". There are numerous set tunes. The unique features include a seamless back-and-forth changing of natural voice and falsetto voice, with the latter suddenly rising to a very high register. After the second falsetto, the melodic line progressively descends. The moods are extreme, and emotions are intense.
The Shijiazhuang Sixian Opera Troupe of Hebei has groomed many outstanding artists in the genre, such as the famous four - Liu Kuixian, He Fengxiang, Wang Zhenchuan and Feng Guangting - and Wang Yongchun. Maestros including national class artists Bian Shusen, Zhang Helin and An Luchang will be joined by young forces including Yu Junxian, Zhang Baoying, Liu Ruduo, Cai Junping, Zhang Zhanguo, Zhang Yong, Zhang Shugai and others to showcase renowned repertoire in Hong Kong.
Details of the performances are as follows:
July 16 (Tuesday)
Programme: Excerpts "Dreaming of Her Future Husband", "Kou Zhun with His Boots on His Back", "Chasing Away the Son-in-law" and "Li Tianbao Paying His Last Respects" from "A Tearful Mourning"
Cast: Bian Shusen, Zhang Baoying, Cai Junping, Zhang Yong, Zhang Shugai, Zhao Hongli, Wang Huiying and Lu Huijuan
July 17 (Wednesday)
Programme: "The Empty Seal Box"
Cast: Zhang Shugai, Zhang Zhanguo, Zhang Baoying, Ma Xinyi, Liu Ruduo and Fan Lijuan
July 18 (Thursday)
Programme: "The White Gauze Robe"
Cast: Zhang Helin, Zhang Zhanguo, Yu Junxian, Zhang Yu, Zhang Baoying, Liu Ruduo, Gao Wenmao and Li Fengyun
All performances will be staged at 7.30pm at the Theatre of Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $120, $200 and $280 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 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 www.urbtix.hk . For more information, please visit www.cof.gov.hk/2013/en/program_hebei.html .
The following extension activities, with free admission, will be held to tie in with the Sixian opera performances:
"Artists on Their Art: The Provenance of Sixian Opera and Its Uniqueness in Performance and Vocal Style" (in Putonghua)
July 15 (Monday), 7.30pm
AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Speakers: Lin Shichao, Bian Shusen, Zhang Helin and Yu Junxian
Demonstration: Guo Peng and Gao Zhongjian
Moderator: Wu Heli
Exhibition: "Sixian Opera of Hebei - Actions Speak the Heart"
May 28 to 31 Foyer Exhibition Area,
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
June 5 to July 22 Foyer, Hong Kong City Hall
July 3 to 28 Foyer, Ko Shan Theatre
July 22 to 28 Exhibition Corner,
Yuen Long Theatre
Ends/Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 10:00