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March
Shanghai Shaoxing Opera Group to perform in Hong Kong
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Shanghai Shaoxing Opera Group's performances in Hong Kong next month (April) will feature the acclaimed opera "The Dream of the Red Mansion (New Version)", "Meng Lijun", "The Jade Hairpin" as well as excerpts from the opera.

It will be the second run in Hong Kong for "The Dream of the Red Mansion" after its debt in 2001.

The new version, rewritten from China's greatest novel "The Dream of the Red Mansion" and specially created for the opening of the Shanghai Opera Grand Theatre, has been acclaimed as the grand manifestation of the cultural characteristics of Shanghai. It also has been adopted and arranged for production in Korea by the Korean National Art Theatre. 

"It (The Dream of the Red Mansion) won popular acclaim not only in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, but also in other parts of the world where the audiences are of a different nationality and race. Language did not pose any communication problem here. The lyricism of the music is able to touch the hearts of people of an alien culture deeply."- Sing Tao Daily.

"Meng Lijun" is a romantic comedy about Meng, a brilliant woman, disguising herself as a man to escape being arrested, then working her way up to prime minister and winning the favor of the emperor. Finally, the Meng family is reinstated; Meng rejoins with her fiance and gets married.

"The Jade Hairpin" is one of the classic comedies in Chinese literature and tells the touching love story between a young scholar Wang Yulin and a young lady Li Xiuying. Li is betrothed to Wang but Li's cousin tries to propose to Li but fails. He then arranges to steal Li's jade hairpin and leaves a forged love letter to arouse Wang's jealousy. Wang is enraged and suspects Xiuying of infidelity. The truth is finally revealed and the young couple is reconciled at last.

Yue Opera, also known as Shaoxing Opera by the region from which it originated in the early part of the 20th Century, is a regional operatic genre that has evolved quickly despite its rather short history. The genre of Yue Opera is distinguished by its lyrical and poetic style, which incorporates all five aspects of stage production - scriptwriting, directing, performance, music and design. As a performing art, it is a fine marriage of abstraction and realism. The repertory is largely based on folklore, Chinese classical literature and history. There are also elements of day-to-day living about it.

In performance, it appeals to the audience with its elegance, sensitive yet earthy rendering. It has its roots in the life of the people without losing the successful formula of operatic music. The vocal style is lyrical, expressive, appealing to the ear and touching to the heart. The scenery and props, costumes and creation of stage personae are very much in the tradition with Chinese painting. The visual appeal is obvious: tasteful, colourful and invites imagination. The genre of Yue Opera can be described as a rare and fragrant bloom from the garden of Chinese operatic arts where hundreds of species grow and thrive.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the programme will be staged in April at the Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Details are as follows:

April 14 (Thursday) 7.30pm "The Dream of the Red Mansion" (new version)
April 15 (Friday) 7.30pm "The Dream of the Red Mansion" (new version)
April 16 (Saturday) 7.30pm Excerpts from the opera
April 17 (Sunday) 2.30pm "Meng Lijun"
April 17 (Sunday) 7.30pm "The Jade Hairpin"

Among the cast are Qian Huili, Shan Yangping, Fang Yafen, Wu Fenghua(Guest), Zhang Ruihong and Zheng Guofeng.

Tickets priced at $320, $240, $180 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 recipients. For details of group booking discount schemes, please refer to the programme leaflet. Lyrics and dialogue will have Chinese and simplified English subtitles.

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

A pre-performance talk "Outstanding Features of Yue Opera" (in Putonghua) will be held at 7:30pm on April 13 (Wednesday) at Rm AC2, Level 4, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Admission is free. Seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Ends/Thursday, March 3, 2005
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