So Yung was a renowned Cantonese opera playwright who wrote numerous classic and popular plays and songs from the 1950s onwards. To pay tribute to So's contributions, the Dragon and Phoenix Cantonese Opera Troupe has chosen five works by So Yung, namely "White Dragon Pass", "Plucking the Tassels", "The Couple Swords", "The Royal Decree of Exemption from Death" and "An Order to Annihilate Dragon Mountain", to be staged in October and November. Cantonese opera virtuosi and young artists set to perform in the shows include Lee Lung, Nam Fung, Yuen Siu-fai, Liu Kwok-sum, Lai Yiu-wai, Johnson Yuen, Cheng Nga-kei and Lam Tin-yau.
"White Dragon Pass" is about Emperor Taizu from the Song Dynasty, who is besieged in the White Dragon Pass by White Dragon, the crown prince of Northern Han. General Huyan Shouting and his younger sister Jinding break through the encirclement by using a beauty trap and eventually achieve a triumph. White Dragon runs away in a flurry and meets Jinding again. Jinding has a cherished affection for him, and she knows that it is always hard to choose between country and love as they never co-exist.
"Plucking the Tassels" starts with the story of General Tang Jiao and the imperial brother-in-law Xiang Xiang of the state of Chu, who fall in love with Yuji at the same time. Yuji urges Jiao to marry her as early as possible but the King of Chu comes in person to select Yuji as his concubine. Yuji has no option but to break her engagement with Jiao. Later, the state of Jin invades Chu and surrounds the Chu troops. Jiao leads an army to rescue the King and runs across Yuji on the way. Will Jiao still risk his life to rescue Yuji?
"The Couple Swords" is a story of Qi Jingwen, a valiant general at the border, who is happily married to Chu Lixiang. Lixiang has two brothers, Cunwu and Weiwu, who live with the Qi family. Wei Zhenliang, the widowed daughter-in-law of Qi's mother, is unhappy that her mother-in-law shows lots of affection for Lixiang. One night, Zhenliang has a rendezvous with a man in the garden, but their affair is discovered by Qi's mother. Zhenliang kills her mother-in-law with a dagger left by Weiwu, and then she frames Lixiang and her family. Can they finally prove their innocence?
"The Royal Decree of Exemption from Death" is set in the Song Dynasty. Guo Xiaofeng, the Imperial Concubine of the West Palace, is the favourite of the Emperor. Xiaofeng discovers that Huaying, the Crown Prince born to the deceased Queen, is secretly in love with her maid Ziyu. The Queen Mother arranges a royal wedding for Huaying and Ziyu. On the wedding day, Ziyu unknowingly presents poisoned wine to the Queen Mother, who drinks it and dies. Xiaofeng requests the Emperor to execute Huaying and bury Ziyu alive. Can they survive?
"An Order to Annihilate Dragon Mountain" is a story about the Emperor Guangwu of the Han Dynasty. He believes the slander he hears from the imperial father-in-law and executes Marshal Yao Qi. Wang Ying, the guardian of the prince, is dissatisfied with what the imperial father-in-law has done, so he pretends to collaborate with him in order to investigate. Yao Gang, the son of Yao Qi, gets married with Wang Ying's daughter, Lingxian. When he finds out that the imperial father-in-law and Wang Ying are culprits behind the death of his father, he feels very bitter. During a feast, Yao Gang steals a letter which proves that the imperial father-in-law works for the enemy. The imperial father-in-law is furious and forces Wang Ying to catch him.
So Yung (1929-2004) became a formal disciple of Ho Fei-fan, a Cantonese opera star, in Guangzhou. He received formal training in writing libretti and plays for Cantonese opera from Leung Mung. So resettled in Hong Kong in 1954, and he assisted in writing the new play "Lovers' Plight" and also began writing Cantonese sung arias for films. He started taking up impresario work in the 1980s, having worked for several Cantonese opera troupes, such as Lung Fung, Boom-a-Bliss and Fung Sing Fai. His oeuvres of Cantonese operas include "Armoured Horses and a Silver Marriage", "Han Xin's Fatal Visit to the Palace" and "Herculean's Bow" and more. His Cantonese operatic arias include "Accompanying Jingniang Thousands of Miles" as well as "Dik Ching Crashing through Three Blockades" and other works.
Details of the performances are as follows:
"White Dragon Pass"
October 26 (Saturday), 7.30pm
Auditorium, Tuen Mun Town Hall
"Plucking the Tassels"
October 28 (Monday), 7.30pm
Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall
"The Couple Swords"
October 29 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre
"The Royal Decree of Exemption from Death"
October 30 (Wednesday), 7.30pm
Theatre, Ko Shan Theatre
"An Order to Annihilate Dragon Mountain"
November 2 (Saturday), 7.30pm
Auditorium, Tsuen Wan Town Hall
"A Selection of Cantonese Opera by So Yung" is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Tickets from $100 to $350 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 programme enquiries, please call 2268 7325 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/Programme/en/chinese_opera/program_330.html. For ticketing enquiries, call 2734 9009; for credit card telephone booking, call 2111 5999. Internet bookings are available at www.urbtix.hk.
A free "Post-performance Meet-the-artist Session" conducted in Cantonese will be held to tie in with the programme. Details are as follows:
Date/Time: November 14 (Thursday), 7.30pm
Venue: AC1, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Speakers: Lee Lung, Nam Fung
Ends/Monday, September 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 10:00