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"The Hidden Concubine": Peking Opera on show this Friday


In "The Hidden Concubine", the Contemporary Legend Theatre of Taiwan transcends tradition, transforming a "warhorse" of the Peking repertoire into a sophisticated Chinese opera that is modern in every respect. It will be staged this Friday and Saturday (October 24 and 25) at 7.30pm at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

"The Hidden Concubine" reinterprets for a contemporary audience the provocative, mesmerising love story of a bandit, his concubine and her lover.

The production is a tour de force for Wu Hsing-kuo. Acclaimed for his performances in Chinese opera, films and TV, and as a dancer with the famous Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Wu not only directs "The Hidden Concubine", but also takes on both of the opera's dramatically contrasting male roles, those of the bandit and the lover.

Wu has always been a pioneer in bringing new and revolutionary elements to the refined style of Peking opera. More than a mere performance, audiences can expect an object lesson in how traditional art can be rendered relevant.

The set of the drama was designed by famous Taiwan architect Deng Kuen-yen. Deng demonstrates his exceptional creativity and sheer perfection of aesthetics in literature and arts of the Sung Dynasty in his set design. The core design concept is derived from the unrestrained nature of the cursive calligraphy of the Sung Dynasty, with a mixture of gold and black generating a dramatic, but mysterious backdrop.

Adapted from the classic "The Water Margin", "The Hidden Concubine" tells the story of Song Jiang who, before moving to Liang Shan to be the leader of 108 outlaws, takes the young and pretty Yan Xijiao as his concubine. No sooner has he installed Yan in a luxurious residence than she begins an affair with his apprentice, Zhang Wenyuan. When Yan threatens to expose Song's illegal dealings with the outlaws, the bandit slays her with his sword. Yan must return from the nether world to the world of mortals in order to capture Zhang and be with him forever...

A post-performance talk in Putonghua will be held at 3pm on October 26 (Sunday) in AC1, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Admission is free

"The Hidden Concubine" is part of the "Legends of China" Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The production is presented in Putonghua, with Chinese and English surtitles. Tickets priced at $280, $220, $160 and $100 are available at all URBTIX outlets.

Half-price tickets are offered to senior citizens, full-time students, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Recipients. For group bookings and packages, discounts of up to 20% apply.

Telephone reservations can be made on 2734 9009. For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044.

Programme details can be found in the brochures obtainable at URBTIX outlets or at

Ends/Monday, October 20, 2003

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