Thursday, March 22, 2007

Alternative "Butterfly Lovers" - Yueju Stars, Yueju-styled music but in not Yueju

This is what I had found on the net with regards to the "Butterfly Lovers", performed by Wang Zhiping and Zhao Zhigang. This is quite an unsual pairing, because this show in Yueju is usually performed by Fan-styled xiaosheng with Fu-styled or Yuan-styled huadan, and at times by Xu-styled xiaosheng with Wang-styled huadan; but having the role of Liang Shanbo being sang by an Yin-styled xiaosheng is not what I've ever heard of. Well, actually it made no difference, after watching this clip, since the actors themselves are not singing Yueju, but in Mandarin along with the Yueju-styled "Butterfly Lovers" violin concerto music.

How do you find it? To me, I may like Wang Zhiping, but then again this performance is not something I can really stomach. They sounded simply too odd in this clip!

Here is another clip, by Wang Zhiping again, but this time Huang Hui as Liang Shanbo. Still on the theme of using music from "Butterfloy Lovers" violin concerto, it sounded much better, since they're singing in their native Zhejiang dialect. However, there's completely no sense of any style of singing for the actors already. That is, Wang Zhiping totally don't sound Wang-styled, and Huang Hui no longer sounded like Lu-styled.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pictures from Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe's "Legend of Wang Cuiqiao"

Introducing here, is Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe's latest masterpiece "Legend of Wang Cuiqiao"!

For those who had attended the troupe's performance at Lor Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple during last year's Lunar New Year season would not be unfamiliar with this show, as this was the same show they performed for their finale.

"Legend of Wang Cuiqiao" tells the story of Wang Cuiqiao, an ill-fated maiden who lead an extraordinary life during the restive Jiajing period of the late Ming dynasty. Wang Cuiqiao was supposed to come from a well-to-do background, with a father serving the Emperor in the royal court. However, he was unfortunately being maligned by treacherous officials and thrown into the jail. Wang Cuiqiao, on the other hand, was being sold into the brothel. She was subsequently redeemed by a scholar Xu Wenchang, and were supposed to get married, but alas she was later abducted by some Japanese pirates, and due to unexpected twist of events, she became the wife of a bandit king named Xu Hai. Unlike other unfortunate women who landed in the hands of bandits, she did not suffer, as Xu Hai held her with high respects, and even treated her like a personal advisor. At this point of time, Marshal Hu Zongke was given the decree by the royal court to subdue the bandits terrorising the costal regions of southern China. Under the advise of Xu Wenchang, who happened to be his subordinate, he decided to send Xu Wenchang to Xu Hai's lair, hoping to persuade Xu Hai into surrendering his troops to serve the royal court. On seeing her lover again, Wang Cuiqiao was at conflict as to who should she follow, but as she was already Xu Hai's wife, she decided to let her love with Xu Wenchang become history. However, she was still trustful of Xu Wenchang, and she knew this would be a good opportunity for Xu Hai to turn over a new leaf and lead a normal peaceful life together with her. Xu Hai, of course, had no doubt in Wang Cuiqiao's foresight, and agreed instantly. However, neither of the trio knew that all these "peace talks" were just ploys of the Marshal to stem out the bandits. Not long after Xu Hai surrendered his 5000-men strong fleet to the imperial capital, Hu Zongke immediately accused Xu Hai of trying to stage a revolution by bringing his entire troop into the city, and had him and his subordinates killed. Wang Cuiqiao blamed herself for causing the death of her husband and his subordinates, and when the royal court decided to give Wang Cuiqiao an official title for doing a "righteous deed" by helping them eliminate the bandits, she made use of the opprtunity to ridicule the royal court for it's hypocrisy, and finally commited suicide as a form of apology to the deceased bandits.

Although this show had premiered in Singapore last year, it was however just a "sneak preview", and frankly speaking, this show was not meant to be performed in temple fairs due to the simplicity of the stage. This time round, having staged the show in full splendor at Fanghua Theatre (I believe this theatre is in Fuzhou) in late January this year, there was a vast improvement, in terms of scenogaphy, costume design and lighting design. Take a look at the pictures here!