Dream of the Red Chamber: A Cantonese Opera Concert
Why We Recommend it
The Open University of Hong Kong brings to stage a concert rendition of one of China’s four classic novels in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
Written by Cao Xueqin in the middle of the 18th century, The Dream of the Red Chamber is a semi-autobiography that mirrors the rise and fall of the author’s own family and, by extension, the Qing dynasty. As the author details in the first chapter, it is intended to be a memorial to the damsels he encountered as a young man: friends, relatives and servants. The novel is noted for its huge cast of characters and psychological scope, as well as its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese society.
This modern production is directed by local veteran theatre director Fredric Mao Chun-fai, and co-produced by Choo Heng-cheong, a renowned musician in Hong Kong’s Cantonese opera industry, the artistic advisor of the Concert, and Leonard Wong Shing-chuen, a famous music leader in Cantonese opera.
The evening consists of a line-up of events, starting with “A Glimpse at the Red Chamber”, a video-recorded dialogue with insights shared by OUHK’s Prof. Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung and Prof. Liu Zaifu. After that, a feature dance performance “Daiyu Joins the Jia Family”, choreographed by the Artistic Director of Hong Kong Dance Company Yang Yuntao, is performed by a group of fresh graduates of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. This is followed by five classic Cantonese Opera excerpts including “Daiyu Buries Falling Flowers”, “Qingwen Mends the Peacock Cloak”, “Burning her Verses, Daiyu Passes Away”, “Baoyu Regrets His Marriage” and “Everlasting Regret at the Land of Illusion” performed by Cantonese opera virtuosos Tse Kwok-cheung, Li Qiuyuan and Jiang Wenduan.
Please note that the performances are conducted in Cantonese and supplemented with Chinese surtitles.
Image: A painting by artist Gai Qi depicting a scene from the novel Dream of the Red Chamber, c. 1816, Qing Dynasty.