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July
Shanghai Opera with traditional and modern themes
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Chinese opera lovers should enjoy the Hu Opera Theatre of Shanghai's outstanding repertoire including traditional productions and new productions on modern themes at performances in Hong Kong next month (August). Best of the best Hu opera talent to perform here include Mao Shanyu, Zun Xuchaun, Ma Lili and Wang Huazhong.

Hu Opera is originated from the "mountain songs" and vernacular songs sung by the people living on the banks of the Wusong and Huangpu Rivers and has a history more than 100 years old. It evolved from folk narrative singing into theatre presentations with lively stories distinguished by their closeness to life. It was introduced to Shanghai city at the beginning of the 20th century, and became a performance feature in tea houses and amusement parks. In the early 1940s, the Shanghai Hu Opera Society was inaugurated. Hu Opera gradually developed into one of the most important genres of Chinese Opera.

Hu Opera Theatre of Shanghai was founded in 1982 from its predecessor Shanghai Hu Opera Troupe, with Ding Shi'er as its founding director. Today, many of the company's artists such as Mao Shanyu (current director of the theatre), Sun Xuchun, Ma Lili, Wang Huazhong, Chen Yu, Lu Xianli have won a large following of fans and popular acclaim. The company's outstanding repertoire includes traditional productions such as "Reunion in the Nunnery" and "Borrowing Yellow Chaff"; new productions on modern themes such as "The Old Coin", "Sha-Jia-Bang", "The Red Lantern"; and more contemporary productions in contemporary costume, or what is known as "Western suit and cheongsam opera", such as "At the Beauty's Feet" and "Thunderstorm".

Hu Opera Theatre of Shanghai has brought three Hu Operas representative of different eras of the development of the genre. "At the Beauty's Feet" is performed in contemporary costumes, or as a sub-genre of "Western suit and cheongsam opera". It is set in urban and urbane Shanghai of the 1930's. "The Old Coin" is a more recent work of a modern theme and performed with a naturalistic liveliness. The opera excerpts are "Borrowing Yellow Chaff" and "Reunion in the Nunnery", both taken from the traditional repertory. The programme is therefore designed to reflect the diversity of styles and subject matter in Hu Opera.

Details of the performing schedule are as follows:
August 4 (Wednesday) "At the Beauty's Feet"
August 5 (Thursday) "The Old Coin"
August 6 (Friday) Excerpts from the Opera "Reunion in the Nunnery"
Excerpts from the Opera "Borrowing Yellow Chaff"

Performances (simplified English surtitles available) will be staged at 7.30pm at the Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $200, $180, $140 and $100 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessions will be granted to senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students, and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis). For other discount schemes, please refer to the programme brochure.

For programme enquiries, call 2268 7323; for ticketing enquiries and reservations, call 2734 9009; for credit card telephone booking, call 2111 5999; for more information, visit http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/cp .

This is one of the programmes of the "Chinese Operatic Art Series 2004". Other coming attractions include "A Concert of Cantonese Nanyin Vernacular Music" (July 15 to 17), song and dance performance by Inner Mongolia Folk Art Troupe (August 30 to September 3) and "A Showcase of Masterly Skills in Chinese Opera" (October 21 to 23).

Ends/Tuesday, July 13, 2004
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