The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) of Hong Kong is presenting the Chinese Opera Festival 2012 from June to offer delightful programmes for lovers of Chinese opera.
The LCSD’s Chief Manager (Cultural Presentations), Ms Mandy Tong, and the Senior Manager (Theatre and Chinese Opera), Ms Teresa Lee, introduced the festival’s main programmes at a press conference held today (April 17). In addition, Kunqu virtuosi Wang Shiyu and Director of the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu Province Cai Shaohua were also present to introduce the festival’s opening programme, Cantonese opera virtuoso Yuen Siu-fai gave an introduction to the new Cantonese opera production “Justice Bao”, and Peking opera artists Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu from the No. 1 Troupe of the China National Peking Opera Company talked about their upcoming performance.
The Chinese Opera Festival 2012, to be held from June 15 to August 5, will present 10 Chinese opera programmes in different theatrical genres.
This year, the LCSD is honoured to have the famous novelist Pai Hsien-yung and the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu Province back in Hong Kong to spearhead a Kunqu mentoring programme. Highly esteemed veterans in the genre Cai Zhengren, Wang Shiyu, Liang Guyin and Zhang Jingxian will teach young actors two Kunqu classics – “The Story of the West Chamber (Southern Qu)” and “The Palace of Eternal Life” – and will guide participants through the practicum course, which will culminate in their final performance. Also, as a demonstration of excellence, Wang Shiyu will partner with Wang Fang and Zhang Shizheng in performing an operatic excerpt.
Other operatic genres will also be well represented at this year’s festival. Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu, stars of the No. 1 Troupe of the China National Peking Opera Company, and special guest star Yang Chi, will perform some of their best known and most popular plays in a Peking opera feast. Yuen Siu-fai and Yau Sing-po, two leading names in Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, will partner in “Justice Bao” – their famed virtuosity will make this production a gem to watch. For another Kunqu segment of the festival, Tang Yuen-ha of the Jingkun Theatre of Hong Kong has invited the famous Kunqu performer Cai Zhengren to join her in a tribute to a Kunqu legend, maestro Yu Zhenfei. Yue opera, which is known for its sweet and colourful appeal, will appear at the festival in the form of the Xiaobaihua Troupe of Hangzhou Yue Opera Theatre. Led by famous exponent of the Jin Caifeng stylistic school Xie Qunying and exponent of the Xu Yulan school Zheng Guofeng, the troupe will perform some of the perennial favourites.
Last but not least, there will be more Chinese regional traditional theatre performers such as the talented cast of the Anhui Huangmei Opera Theatre. The troupe will bring to Hong Kong “The Seventh Fairy Maiden” and “The Female Consort of the Princess”, sung in the mellifluous tones of the regional Huangmei genre. Gezi opera, a Taiwan vernacular theatre, has become a national gem in Taiwan, and some of the most famous plays ever brought to Hong Kong will be performed by the three leading stars of the Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company.
Other regional operatic genres will include Qinqiang, which originated in Shaanxi and Gansu in northwestern China and is typified by the robust, rustic character of the people as seen in “Zhou Ren on the Way Home”. Also included is Gan opera, which comes from Jiangxi and is a later version vocal style that requires actors to be good in singing as well as acting – a virtuosity shown by Tu Linghui, who is making a special comeback for this festival. Beyond operatic performance, the song art of northern China will also be showcased by the Tianjin Song Art Troupe. The troupe will perform songs of different schools to demonstrate the captivating charm of narrative singing.
As in previous years, the Chinese Opera Festival 2012 will include many extension activities to foster a better understanding of Chinese opera going beyond its stage performances. These activities will include symposiums, film screenings, talks and exhibitions.