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Anhui troupe to showcase ancient Nuo opera and dance

Chizhou Nuo Opera Troupe of Anhui will perform Nuo opera and dance - an antiquated, richly endowed and rustic characteristics of Chinese Opera - in September.

"Nuo" means purging of evils, demons and plagues. Chizhou Nuo opera is one of the most ancient and rare forms of opera in Anhui, dating back more than 3,000 years. Originally, it was performed to pray to gods for clement weather and peace and prosperity of land in the coming year. It is normally staged in villages from the seventh to 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

Passed down from generation to generation through family members only, it has not been exposed to external influence, and so remains unadulterated. Even today it enjoys the rare distinction of preserving its original flavor and characteristics. With its ancient and maturity in form, the Nuo opera is dubbed "the living fossil" of opera.

The distinctive feature of Nuo dance/play is the use of face masks by players during the performance. The masks are carved out of wood (usually willow or yellow poplar) and painted in oil. The life-like masks are cast in different moulds to depict different roles and character. For instance, a Guan Gong mask is painted in red and bearded also in red to reflect loyal and heroic traits.

Chizhou Nuo Opera Troupe of Anhui was founded in 1970, and since then has grown into a professional performing company. Over the years, the company has been dedicated to preserving the heritage of Chizhou Nuo through research, rediscovery and compilation. Many productions have been successfully staged. It went on tour to Singapore, Korea, Hungary and Germany. Chizhou Nuo was listed as a "national intangible cultural heritage"in 2006.

One of the programmes in the "Chinese Operas with an Ancient Lineage" series presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, performances by the Chizhou Nuo Opera of Anhui will be held at 7.30pm on September 14 (Friday) at the Theatre, Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre, with Chinese and simplified English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $100, $160 and $220 are now available at URBTIX outlets, while senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients can have 50% off (Limited quotas for students and CSSA recipients on a first-come, first-served basis). A 10% discount applies to Friends of LCSD performing venues. There will be a maximum of 20% off for various booking schemes. Please refer to the programme leaflets for details.

Other programmes of the "Chinese Operas with an Ancient Lineage" series include "The Liuzi Operatic Troupe of Shandong" (July 30 to August 1); "Haifeng Xiqin Operatic Troupe of Guangdong" (August 3-5) and "Excerpts from the Paichang Repertoires of Cantonese Opera" (November 15-17).

For enquiries about the programmes and the associated events at Hong Kong Cultural Centre - Nuo Opera masks exhibition (September 3–14) and free outdoor performance (September 15), please call 2268 7323 or visit . Ticketing enquiries and reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Tickets can also be booked online at .

Ends/Tuesday, July 24, 2007
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