A Comedy of Betrothals
Yuehua, Zhu Zhishan’s daughter, is betrothed to Lu Ren since childhood. Later, on hearing that her fiancé is slow-witted, she is very depressed and considers breaking off the engagement. Lu Ren’s twin sisters, Lu Wanzhen and Lu Wanzhu, look very much alike. While taking a stroll at the Lantern Festival with her maid, Wanzhu loses her handkerchief, which is found by scholar Wen Chengjia. Wanzhu and Chengjia fall in love at first sight when he returns the handkerchief, and they make a secret pledge to marry. As the wedding day of Yuehua and Lu Ren draws near, Zhishan insists that Lu Ren comes to fetch his bride so that he can personally verify the mental state of his intended son-in-law. Lu Ren’s mother, not wanting her son’s condition to be exposed, sends her eldest daughter Wanzhen instead, disguised as her brother. When Zhishan sees that his ‘son-in-law’ is a presentable young man fully capable of intelligent conversation, he invites him to stay the night. At the same time, Zhishan asks his son Tiansheng to accompany and observe the visitor. During the night, Tiansheng sees through Wanzhen’s ruse. He then proposes marriage to her; and so, Zhishan’s false son-in-law becomes his real daughter-in-law.
Being a family friend, Chengjia goes to the Zhu residence to offer his felicitations on Yuehua’s impending nuptials. He is shocked and angry to find Wanzhen there, mistakenly taking Wanzhen to be his sweetheart Wanzhu, and is at a loss on how to deal with her betraying him to marry Tiansheng. Chengjia volunteers to disguise himself as Yuehua and goes in her place to the Lu household. On the wedding night, Chengjia purposely taunts Lu Ren, causing the bridegroom to disgrace himself by revealing his limitations. Lu Ren’s mother has no choice but to send Wanzhu to the bridal chamber to pacify her ‘sister-in-law’. On seeing Wanzhu, Chengjia realises that he has misunderstood the situation. The following day, Lu Ren’s father comes home with Zhou Ping, a man he has selected as son-in-law. Complications follow from all the multiple and contradicting betrothals and marriages, and the matter ends up in the Mayor’s court. Even the Mayor is powerless to unravel the mess. Finally, the help of Zhu Zhishan is sought to resolve this comedy of errors.
Main cast: Yu Yuyun, Yang Rongyu, Shen Mingtong, Shen Shaojun, Shen Xinge
Qin Xianglian’s husband Chen Shimei heads to the capital to sit for the civil examination. There is no news from him for several years. After Xianglian’s parents-in-law perish in a famine, she leaves their hometown with her two children to look for Shimei in the capital. There, Xianglian learns that not only did Shimei score top position in the examination, he has also become the Prince Consort. During Shimei’s birthday celebrations, Xianglian seeks him out at the palace. Shimei refuses to recognise Xianglian and their children, and orders them removed from the palace. On hearing what transpired, an elderly courtier advises Xianglian to pose as a village singer to perform at the banquet, and to remind Shimei about their past in her songs. But Shimei still refuses to acknowledge his first wife and their children, and expels them from the city. In addition, Shimei orders his henchman Han Qi to secretly kill the three of them to silence them once and for all.
Han Qi follows Xianglian to a temple. After she tearfully tells Han Qi the truth, he cannot bear to murder the innocent victims and lets them go instead. He then commits suicide, since he has failed in his mission. With extreme grief and sorrow, Xianglian takes her case to Justice Bao, who promptly summons Shimei. Believing himself to be unimpeachable since he is a member of the imperial household, Shimei deceptively parries the questions. The emperor’s mother and aunt also weigh in with threats. But Justice Bao ignores them and executes Shimei all the same.
Main cast: Wang Guojun, Li Muming, Shen Shaojun
Cheng Ying Saves the Orphan of Zhao
The story takes place in the State of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period. Under the rule of the Duke of Jing, the devious and cruel minister Tu’an Gu engineers the annihilation of his rival the loyal and forthright Zhao Shuo and his entire clan. The only person who is spared in the massacre is Zhao Shuo’s pregnant wife, a princess. She seeks refuge at the palace and gives birth to a son there. On hearing about the newborn at the palace, Tu’an wants to have him killed too. At the crucial moment, Gongsun Chujiu and Cheng Ying, retainers to the Zhao household, decide to save the infant. They devise a plan to trick Tu’an and preserve the last of Zhao’s bloodline by sacrificing Cheng Ying’s own baby and Gongsun himself.
Fifteen years later, the orphan Zhao Wu has grown up. Duke Jing is seriously taken ill, and a soothsayer performs a divination for him. Colluding with Cheng Ying, the augur tells the Duke that his illness is the retribution for having wronged a loyal courtier. Duke Jing takes advice from Han Jue, and brings Cheng Ying and Zhao Wu back to the palace. Tu’an Gu is so impressed by Zhao Wu that he adopts him as his son, re-naming the young man Tu’an Cheng. Cheng Ying finds an opportunity to divulge to Zhao Wu the truth about the tragic events surrounding his father’s death. The grief-stricken Zhao Wu finally avenges his family by killing Tu’an Gu on the Duke’s order.
Main cast: Wang Guojun, Yang Rongyu, Huang Chengzhong, Li Muming, Shen Shaojun, Shen Xinge
The running time of the performance is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including an intermission of 15 minutes.
With Chinese surtitles
English synopsis available upon request
Information provided by Sun Hon Kwong Chiu Chow Opera Troupe
Tickets available from 30 January onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by Mobile Ticketing App and Credit Card Telephone Booking.
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Credit Card Telephone Booking：2111 5999
The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.
The programme does not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.