Chinese Opera Festival 2019: Shanghai Yue Opera Group Takes the Stage by Storm
Why We Recommend it
This year’s Chinese Opera Festival brings to Hong Kong a line-up of National Class One Performers who are also winners of the Plum Blossom Award for Chinese Theatre from the Shanghai Yue Opera Group.
Yue Opera (越劇) is well-known for its mellifluous melodies, lyricism and aesthetically appealing staging. Each of its different stylistic schools boasts a unique charm.
The festival features the Vice President of the Shanghai Yue Opera Group Qian Huili of Xu (Yulan) school, Company Director of the Number One Troupe of the Shanghai Yue Opera Group Fang Yafen of Yuan (Xuefen) school, Zhang Ruihong of Fan (Ruijuan) school, as well as Shan Yangping and Wang Zhiping of Wang (Wenjuan) school.
They are going to perform 4 full-length traditional classics: Romance of the West Chamber, Meng Lijun, Tale of the West Garden and Southeast the Peacocks Fly.
Romance of the West Chamber, a love story with an elegant libretto, is adapted from the zaju (雜劇) play of the same title by Wang Shifu of the Yuan period. Zaju is the first popular mature xiqu format in China dated back to the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). With an emphasis on poetic ambience, the company’s staging of this classic in the repertoire of the Yuan school is hailed as one of the most faithful adaptations of the original play of Wang among contemporary works.
Meng Lijun, a comedy with an imperial court setting, is in the repertoire of the Wang school. The libretto is based on the the tanci (彈詞; “plucking lyrics”) of Eternal Happiness by poetess, Chen Duansheng of the Qing period.
The lighthearted comedy, Tale of the West Garden, is the signature play of the legendary duo in Yue Opera, Xu Yulan and Wang Wenjuan. The script is based on the work of the same title by dramatist Wu Bing from the late Ming period (1368-1644) and the Kunqu (崑劇; a form of Chinese drama developed in the 16th century) Opera adaptation by dramatist Bei Geng in the 1960s. The play has a lively pace, and is exquisite in the staging and design.
The story of Southeast the Peacocks Fly originates from An Ancient Poem Written for Jiao Zhongqing’s wife during the East Han period. Jiao was a officer of the State in Eastern Han, whose wife was not favoured by Jiao’s mother – and thus the poem inspired by the tragedy. It is in the stock repertoire of the Fan and Fu (Quanxiang) schools.
The arias, The Lonely Chamber after That Person is Gone and A Fond Farewell, have become classics and remained popular to this day. The galaxy of stars of Yue Opera and their signature repertoire make an exciting showcase at this year’s Chinese Opera Festival.
Please note that both Chinese and English surtitles are provided for the Chinese performances. Performances by the Shanghai Yue Opera Group is a part of the Chinese Opera Festival 2019.