Monday, December 29, 2008

Lor. Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple's 2009 Spring Temple Fair Performance

Keeping by their annual tradition, Lor. Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple is organising a series of opera performances as part of their Spring Temple Fair this year for all Hokkien opera lovers out their. Over the period from 23 January to 8 February next year, Fei Feng Yi Stage Opera from Taipei will be presenting a total of 17 different shows each night.

To know more about this opera troupe, please visit their blog at Yahoo! Taiwan.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chinese Opera 3-in-1: The Jade Flying Phoenix

I found this on recently, about a theatrical performance in China which has got actors from Yueju, Xiju and Kunqu performing together. It wasn't a very new show already, as this video I found was uploaded early last year. This show, titled "The Jade Flying Phoenix", tells the story of Fan Li and Xi Shi after the fall of the kingdom of Wu. In this show, there're 3 pairs of Fan Li and Xi Shi; Zhao Zhigang and Zhao Haiying formed the Yueju pair, Zhou Dongliang and Li Shuxian the Xiju pair and Zhang Jun and Lei Ling the Kunqu pair. I'm curious as to how the producers integrate the elegance of Kunqu, the gentleness of Yueju and the meliodious nature of Xiju into one cohesive theatrical piece, but since no video recording of it is available either on the net or in VCD/ DVD format , I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed for now!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ma Lan Goes Nanyin

Contrary to my other posts with similar-wording titles, this time round, I'm really going to blog about famous Huangmei opera actress Ma Lan singing Hokkien Nanyin! Well it was all part of a gala performance whereby famous Chinese opera (and may some folk music singers) get out of their usual opera and musical genre to sing in another totally different genre which they might not have touched before. I personally like Ma Lan singing Huangmei opera, and I think I should credit her for trying to sing in a dialect which was claimed to be one of the top 10 hardest Chinese dialects to master. However, to be real honest, I'm simply not used to her way of rendition.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Orchestral Liyuan Opera

Liyuan opera has its own set of musical instruments which is not shared by many other opera genres. Therefore, it is very rare to have Liyuan opera collaborating with other musical genres, not even Chinese orchestra. However, lately, Fujian Province Liyuan Experimental Opera Troupe has been invited to perform in Beijing with the accompaniment of western orchestra. Take a look at it here:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Opera @ North West CDC

Here are the updated posters for the upcoming Chinese opera series for North West CDC's Artsfest, which would be held in the month of September to December.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yueju Drama Serial "The Butterfly Lovers"

I finally found Hua Weiqiang's "The Butterfly Lovers" on the net. For those who do not know who on earth is this Hua Weiqiang, he is a famous Yueju actor from Zhejiang. Like some of his fellow mates from Zhejiang Yueju Company, he has very few works that has been made into drama serials or VCDs, and on top of that, he is a male actor, making him all the more rarer (Yueju opera has been dominated by female actresses in many troupes for decades already). I personally find Hua Weiqiang's voice quite nice, but it's a pity that he does not have a face to match. I'm not too sure if other people feel the same way as me, but you can listen to it for yourself.

In this version of "The Butterfly Lovers", Hua Weiqiang did not really act, but lend his voice to the actor taking on the role of Liang Shanbo. Although I had been looking high and low for this show, I know well that this show may not be good as I've heard very bad comments on it. Some netizens have complained that the whole show has been ruined by bad acting by actors who are not even trained in Chinese opera. After watching a bit of it, I find that it really isn't that good. However, my main focus is actually on Hua Weiqiang's singing, so other aspects are not that important for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A.C. Goes Liyuan Opera

No, I'm not leaving my favourite Xiangju to sing Liyuan opera, but as a fan of the latter, I've always wanted to learn how to sing and perform in that genre, and apply whatever I have learn into what I'm doing now. Afterall, it doesn't quite hurt to learn more right?

So here I am, learning how to sing an aria of Chen San from "The Lantern Festival" from "Chen San and Wuniang". Somehow I just find my rendition very odd-sounding, not too sure if it's my singing or that the music, which was made using a MOD tracker, sounded too unauthentic.

Monday, July 21, 2008

jiangxi Ganju Opera: "The Centennial Love" - the video

I had recently blogged about Jiangsu Ganju "The Centennial Love", and guess what; I've found the complete show over!

The female lead of the show, Plum Award winner Chen Li's "shenduan" was  delicate, and she managed to effectively display and switch between different emotions. Not forgetting that it wasn't an easy feat for an actress to take on a role whose age spanned over 3-quarters of a century!

Now I'm trying to see if there's any way I can get hold of the original VCD or DVD of this show. It's certainly a must buy for me.

Stylish Elements in a Traditional Opera Genre: Quanzhou Liyuan Opera

Quanzhou's Liyuan opera may be one of the oldest existing form of Chinese opera in China, but it doesn't mean that they are so traditional to the point they become old-fashion. At least not in terms of character makeup (costume and hairdo). Instead of spotting regular "datou" on female roles as in more traditional opera genres like Peking opera and Cantonese opera, Liyuan opera had gone through a fair bit of "cosmetic surgery" to inject some modern elements in their character portrayal. Below  are some pictures taken during Fujian Liyuan Opera Experimental Troupe's performance at Taiwan earlier this year. The troupe performed an excerpt from "Li Yaxian" for the opening of Koxinga Festival.

Actually, the "datou" system of hairdo has not been completely removed from Liyuan opera, but their style of "datou" is very different from other opera genre; some featured sharp pointed fringes, some had slanted gelled fringes, and typical the actors do not decorate their hair as elaborate as other opera genres, hence creating a more minimalist and elegant look. Here are some other character portrayals from other shows by the same troupe.

"The Teacher, The Thief": an Old Recording 2

Fellow opera troupe mate XJ was very interested in my previous post on an old recording of "The Teacher, The Thief" by Zhangzhou City Opera Troupe (I believe that the troupe used to be called Zhangzhou Xiangju Experimental Troupe" back then), and hence I decided to put up a second clip here. What I like about Xiangju around that era was their "rawness" and full of local flavour. However, the main drawback was that the opera genre back then are not so well-developed, and hence there're many instances whereby I just can't connect with the show as some parts of the plot or dialogue just seem weird.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"The Teacher, The Thief": an Old Recording

"The Teacher, The Thief" (《三家福》) is one of the most well-loved Hokkien opera show of the Xiangju genre, and is also one of the highlights of Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe. I've seen performances put up by other troupes, but so far none is able to match theirs in terms of feel.

Our version of "The Teacher, The Thief": the finale

Our opera troupe regularly perform this show too, and it is exactly the same, in terms of script and tunes, to the version performed by Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe in 1983 at Kreta Ayer Theatre. Some people may not know, but this version was actually the result of major revisions to the script to make it more concise; the original version, which was adapted from a Buddhist tale, was actually much longer and had more subplots. However, nothing of the original version exist now, except in the memories of some of the older Xiangju artistes, as well as some hard-to-get audio recordings. I was lucky to be able to get hold of it, and though it may not be complete, it nevertheless provide an insight as to how Xiangju sounded like before the 60s.
Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe's "The Teacher, The Thief": the finale, recorded many decades ago

Jiangxi Ganju Opera: "The Centennial Love"

Jiangxi Ganju Opera Company had recently produced a large-scale modern opera titled "The Centennial Love" (等你一百年). Though I have yet to seen the performance in full, but having watched an excerpt of it over CCTV-11 made me long for it.

"The Centennial Love" is based on a true story that happened in Jiangxi province in the 1930s. It told the story of a child-bride Dujuan who ran away from marriage to elope with her childhood bosom friend Yongsheng. Unfortunately, Yongsheng was already been recruited into the Red Army, and on the night of their wedding, Yongsheng was brought away by his comrades. Before he left, Yongsheng asked Dujuan to wait for him return, but he never did. Dujuan waited for her husband in vain and passed away in grieve in 2005, at the age 94.

Ganju is a very old form of folk opera. It's predecessor was the "Yiyang melody" (弋阳腔), which is one of the 4 oldest form of vocal styles in China. The tunes of Ganju are melodious, but also one of the highest-pitched. Ganju opera singing features lots of backup vocals, especially at the end of each verse, giving it a very resounding character, unlikes its more "gentle" siblings like the Kunqu opera or Liyuanxi opera.

The excerpt I've seen of this show was the part showing the young couple who are about to be separated on the night of their wedding. It featured quite a lot of dance movements, showing the young lovers' affection for one another, but at the same time sad that they'd be separated soon, without knowing when they would reunite again. Being very observant of minute details, there was a particular gesture which made me fell for this show: before the young man was about to leave, Dujuan brought out a pair of canvas shoes which she had made herself and put them on for Yongsheng. This may seemed like a very negligible gesture on stage, but it actually tells a lot of story; one could almost feel all the love, care and well-wishes being put into the ordinary-looking pair of shoes. I'm sure the show in its full length is as good as this excerpt, and hopefully there'll be a VCD or DVD release of this show soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company Coming to Singapore

Leading Taiwanese opera troupe Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company (明华园戏剧总团) is coming to Singapore soon to perform.

As part of the Moonfest for this year (mid-autumn festival celebration), the company will be staging their well-loved show, "The Immortal of Penglai" (蓬莱大仙), starring Sun Cuifeng as the leading character.

"The Immortal of Penglai" tells the story of a handsome, but arrogant half-deity Li Xuan, who offended the Goddess of Yue, and in revenge, the latter destroyed his mortal body while his soul was away. In order not to become a roaming ghost, Li Xuan had no choice but to attach his soul onto the body of a dead beggar, and became the more popularly-known "Iron-clutch Li" of the Eight Immortals.

This Hokkien opera will be staged at the Esplanade Theatre on 6 and 7 September, 8pm, and tickets are already on sale at SISTIC. Fans of Hokkien opera, please set these dates aside for this event!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Arts @ NWCDC: Chinese Opera Nites

Once again, our opera troupe worked with Northwest CDC to present a series of Chinese opera performances at various community clubs in the northwest region from September to November this year. Known as "Arts @ NWCDC: Chinese Opera Nites", it was slightly different from our previous collaborations in that some other opera troupes were involved as well. and we helped liaise with the other troupes. I was delegated with the task of designing the performance posters as well as the event booklet for this series of performances.

THe troupes involved in this series of performances include: Er Woo Amateur Musical & Dramatic Association, Nam Hwa Amateur Musical & Dramatic Association, Kong Chow Wui Koon Cantonese opera Troupe, Xin Yi Cantonese opera Troupe, and of course us, Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe. The performance schedule is as follow:
Hokkien opera "Zhao Jingniang and Zhao Kuangyin" @ Chong Pang CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.09.20)

Teochew opera excerpts @ Chong Pang CC by Er Woo Amateur Musical & Dramatic Association (2008.09.21)

Teochew opera excerpts @ Bukit Timah CC by Nam Hwa Musical & Dramatic Association (2008.10.04)

Hokkien opera excerpts @ Bukit Timah CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.10.11)

Cantonese opera excerpts @ Ulu Pandan CC by Kong Chow Wui Koon Cantonese Opera Troupe (2008.10.18)

Cantonese opera excerpts @ Ulu Pandan CC by Xin Yi Cantonese Opera Troupe (2008.10.25)

Hokkien opera excerpts @ Marsiling CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.11.01)

Hokkien opera excerpts @ Fuchun CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.11.08)

Hokkien opera excerpts @ Zheng Hua CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.11.15)

Hokkien opera "Zhao Jingniang and Zhao Kuangyin" @ Zheng Hua CC by Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (2008.11.22)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Xiangju Opera Version's "The Three Scholars of the Zhang Family"

Fans of Hokkien Gezi opera will not be unfamiliar with "The Three Scholars of the Zhang Family" (一门三进士), as it's considered a gem of the genre, and has been an all-time favourite among local Gezi opera lovers.

This show, however, is seldom performed in Xiangju version. Today, I was lucky to find one on There're 2 surprising points to note: it's performed by a Xiangju opera troupe from Quanzhou (Quanzhou is not a strong base for Xiangju, to start with), and secondly, the songs sung are exactly as they were in the Yang Lihua version decades back. Of course, however, their songs have more Xiangju feel, for afterall this is Xiangju and not Gezi opera. Although this troupe came from Quanzhou, they do not spot the typical Quanzhou accent as like in Gaojia opera, Liyuan opera or Dacheng opera. The reason for this was because Xiangju opera spread there during the period of time when Xiangju master Shao Jianghai was recuperating in that region. Shao Jianghai started teaching Xiangju opera there, and since he had stayed in Zhangzhou long enough, naturally he spotted a Zhangzhou accent, and his students picked up this characteristic as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shaoxing Lian Hua Luo Opera's "The Teacher, The Thief"

Our troupe will be performing our most well-loved show "The Teacher, The Thief" (三家福) this Friday at Tampines East Community Club. It has been ages since we last performed this show, and I'm excited over it, because this is one of the very few shows which I play the lead.

In conjunction with our performance, I've decided to showcase another rendition of this show in the genre of Shaoxing Lian Hua Luo opera. "Lian Hua Luo" is actually a form of folk opera which evolved from street performances in the olden days featuring beggars and street artisans playing simple musical instruments, dancing and singing along. Anyway, my reason of showcasing this version of "The Teacher, The Thief" is not entirely due to us going to perform soon. I'm showing it partly also to show my happiness that our opera genre's show has been adapted into other opera genres. In the past, it usually that we adapt shows from other genres but not the other way round. Having our own shows adapted into other other genre to me is a very important thing, as it is an indication of the high standard the show has, and also it allows more people to know the existence of our opera genre (that is, of course, if our opera genre was clearly credited).

Declination of Creativity in the Field of Chinese Opera

Lately I was very troubled with the decline of creative performance in the Chinese opera field in China. What I meant by "creative performance" is not doing experimental acts or pushing artistic boundaries; Chinese opera in general, at this stage, is still not quite fully ready for that I feel. This "creativity" is more on producing an original production, be it based on historical events, pure fiction, or even adapted from other sources. The reason why I'm feeling troubled, is that I started to see "clones" everywhere; clones of popular or well-acclaimed productions from one opera genre being copied exactly as it is and reproduced in another genre (with the exception of amending the dialogues and lyrics to suit the linguistic characteristics of the latter, as well as replacing the music of the former to those belonging to the latter).

Of course it is arguable that well-received shows would definitely tempt people to adapt them, and this has been the case since decades ago, but back them, most adaptation are restricted only to just the script. Nowadays, the degree of adaptation goes beyond that. An example I have on hand is "The Pearl Pagoda" originally produced by Jiangsu Province Xiju Opera Company. This production was not exactly an "original" one so to speak, as it was actually rewritten based on the classic Xiju version that had been made famous since the 60s or so. Nevertheless, it was still well-received, and some changes were made to made this production more in-line with the modern-day audience's perspective. Haicheng Chaoju Opera Troupe and Hainan Province Qiongju Opera Company subsequently adapted it into their own repertoire, and to my horror, they're almost identical, even in terms of costume design, set design, direction sense and artistic gestures of actors.

The original Xiju version by Jiangsu Province Xiju Opera Company

The adapted Teochew opera version by Haicheng Chaoju Opera Troupe

TV snapshots of the adapted Hainanese opera version by Hainan Province Qiongju Opera Company (they even used the same theme music form the original Xiju version!

I'm certainly not against adapting shows from other genres into one's own repertoire. However, it must serve a constructive purpose other than trying to cut down the cost needed to employ a playwright or save the time used to write/ direct a completely new show. A well-known Chinese opera playwright (sadly I couldn't remember his name) once said that if one don't inject any new elements into an adaptation, then it shouldn't have been adapted at all in the first place, and I strongly believe in that.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jay Chow Goes Yueju

Don't be mistaken by the heading; Jay Chow is NOT singing Yueju. However, recently (actually it has been almost half a year already), a netizen by the name of "Wei Ye Na" had did a cover of Jay Chow's "Ju Hua Tai", but instead of making a parody out of the lyrics, he actually sang it in the style of Yueju music, complete with a rather authentic Zhejiang accent. Take a look at the video clip before and you'll see what I mean.

I personally quite like this version, a rather nice fusion of "classy pop" with traditional Yueju. The person doing the cover has got a rather nice vocal tone too, and I wonder if he was even at least an amateur Yueju performer himself. Of course, being someone who had quite watched Yueju quite extensively, I found his singing a little less authentic; he was singing in Yin-style almost throughout the whole song (excluding the chorus part of course), but at one particular section, he suddenly broke into the Xu-style, an act no Yueju actor would do unless for special dramatic reasons according to the context of the script.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Zhangzhou's Chun Lan Xiangju Opera Troupe in "The Twin Justice Bao"

For Chinese opera watchers who have been following our opera troupe's performances for over a decade would probably know that we once had a show titled "The Twin Justice Bao". Actually the title was rather misleading, although one part of the show has got a turtle spirit transforming itself into the splitting image of Justice Bao to create havoc, this was not the central theme, and since then the title had been appropriately changed to "Romance of the Carp Fairy".

Recently I realised that a Xiangju troupe from Zhangzhou, Chun Lan Xiangju Opera Troupe, had a show based on the same plot of this show, and same they titled it as "The Twin Justice Bao" as well!

Here are two clips of the performance. Not to say that our troupe has got higher standard, but based on what I saw in the clips, I felt that they are a disaster. Firstly, the male lead Zhang Zhen is a poor scholar, but the costume and headgear worn by the actress doing this role showed elsewise. On the contrary, the female lead, the carp fairy, who disguised herself as the Prime Minister's daughter Jin Mudan, looked too poor. And then the heavenly soldiers who were out to capture her simply looked like the average "human" soldiers, and if not because of i saw Zhong Kui the heavenly ghost catcher appeared in the clip, I wouldn't have realised that they were actually doing the roles of heavenly soldiers. Even then, the appearance of Zhong Kui is a flop to me as well.

Not that I value packaging over other aspects in Chinese opera, but I believe that outlook appearance (costume, makeup, hairdo), singing, acting and stage design are equally important, not forgetting that this is afterall a form of performing arts. Unfortunately, this is one big problem in many Hokkien opera troupes in China at the moment, whereby the troupes are more concerned over acting, and sometimes singing, but overlooked on other areas. This, I feel, is a very crucial setback in the promoting of this opera form, as it will make people think of Hokkien opera as a shabby, sub-standard form of Chinese opera.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Walking in the Rain

Although this blog focus mainly on Chinese opera, this time round I shall talk about Chinese folk dance instead. Why the move, you may ask, but I have to point out that both art forms are very closely linked to one another. Ancient Chinese opera, for example, was developed from folk religious dance, and it is not uncommon to see dance choreography being incorporated into Chinese opera shows nowadays.

The dance which I want to showcase here is titled "Walking in the Rain". This dance was inspired by Puxian opera excerpt "Ruilan Walking in the Rain", and was performed by Fujian Province Dance Troupe in the 50s. Puxian opera has very unique sets of gestures and movements, and it's not hard for the audience to catch a glimpse of that in this dance. These movements were so delicate and unique that this dance immediately caught the attention of many fellow professional practitioners in the dance scene.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Golden Phoenix

Chiling Village of Zhangpu county is a place in Zhangpu county resided mainly by the She minority group. Despite it's relatively unknown status as compared to other big cities in Zhangzhou, it has found itself in the limelight after an opera troupe from this village, Jin Feng Xiangju Opera Troupe, became the top touring Hokkien opera troupe in Malaysia (as described in my previous post). Troupe leader Lan Yajin has now started a second opera troupe, and is planning to conquer other overseas venues like Singapore as well. I certainly look forward to that day!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Malaysia's "Champion Touring Hokkien Opera Troupe"

For those who are avid Hokkien opera fans in Singapore would probably know that the "champion touring Hokkien opera troupe" (local ones excluded) in Singapore is Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe. Then how many know who's the Malaysian equivalent of the same honour? It's Jinfeng Xiangju Troupe from Zhangpu county, Zhangzhou. Other than geographical differences of their home base, Jinfeng Xiangju Opera Troupe is different from Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe too in the sense it is not a government-sponsored troupe. Can you image this: since the troupe's founding 4 years ago, it had performed 393 days in total! With such a glorious achievement, I really want to see how the troupe's like in action...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Teochew Opera Version of "The Teacher, The Thief"

Our troupe has not been performing our classic "The Teacher, The Thief" for quite a while already. It's kind of a good thing for us, less our audience complain that we're always doing the same show over and over again! So here is a clip of this classic show, not in Hokkien, but in Teochew, by Tan Chor Hwee's troupe for your enjoyment!

Tang Meiyun's Female Impersonation

Tang Meiyun is a renowned xiaosheng actress in Taiwanese opera. Because of her suave and manly stage appearance, it is very hard for one to accept if she was to cross over to take on dan roles. In fact, in one of her shows, "Qin Xuemei Punishes Her Son", she took on the title role of Qin Xuemei and the result was devastating. However, recently I found this clip on, and I thought it wasn't that bad. This show was titled "Zhuang Zhou Tests His Wife", in which Tang Meiyun took on the role of Zhuang Zhou's wife Tian Yun. Her acting wasn't very outstanding, I would say, but I feel that her "manliness" was suitable for this role, as Tian Yun is not a typical feminine character, but a very tough woman who had to make a very head-splitting decisionas to whether to chop off her "dead" husband's head to save her" lover" (her "lover" was in fact the transformation of her husband, who had faked death to test Tian Yun's loyalty towards him), or preserve her husband's corpse and let her "lover" die of a strange illness. In this aspect, an actress who is too "soft" or feminine would be deemed inappropriate because it would not bring out the role's strong character.

Tang Meiyun as a dan

Tang Meiyun as a sheng

Wacky Pseudo-Taiwanese Opera "The Butterfly Lovers"

Here're clips from a pseudo-Taiwanese opera show (It's actually Pili puppet show overlaid with Taiwanese opera soundtrack), and I thought it was real wacky. Enjoy!

A Clip from Gezi Opera "Shao Jianghai"

"Shao Jianghai" is the most classic and popular show of Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe. It has even gained the reputation of being "the most classic show of a minor opera genre" by critics. Because of this show, Chinese opera practitioners outside Fujian province started to realise Gezi opera's existence. This show is also the first Gezi opera show to compete with other major opera genres to clinch the prestigious "National Project to the Distillation Of the Stage Art" award (top 10 selected works will be made into DVDs and released China wide). Unfortunately, it did not made it into the finals, but then again, it was a big achievement to even make it into the semi-finals, a major step to push this operatic form beyond the boundaries of Fujian province.

However, when there're achievements, there're negative aspects too. Since 1999, the troupe has been putting full attention into this show, having made up to 5 major revisions till date. This amount of attention has caused the troupe to put less focus on other shows, and it was said that other than "The Grievances of Dou'E", which the troupe had specially produced to take part in the International Hokkien Opera Festival in Taipei in 2006, they had virtually no new shows. A Xiamen friend of mine even lamented that for the past 5 years in Xiamen, all he can watch of the troupe was "Shao Jianghai" and nothing else!

On a side note: Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe is scheduled to perform in Singapore in around April, in conjunction with the birthday celebration of Lord Chenghuang at Lor Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple. Details will be put up once released by the temple.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe's "Shao Jianghai" to Appear on CCTV's Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala Once Again

Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe will be featured in CCTV (China Central Television)'s Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala once again this year. This year, the troupe will send representatives to perform in an excerpt from their most popular show to date, "Shao Jianghai". This will be their second time performing excerpts from Shao Jianghai again on this gala, the first being in 2003. Back then, they performed a song titled "Garbage Soup", a light-hearted song from the opera, which was originally written by the late Gezi opera master Shao Jianghai for a real Gezi opera show. This time round, the troupe will be performing another excerpt titled "The Plowing Song". This excerpt is another highlight of the opera, which features actors using both traditional Chinese opera gestures, contemporary theatre techniques and modern dance movements to create the impression of rice planting in the padi field.

Xiamen Municipality Gezi Opera Troupe is the only Gezi opera troupe that has even appeared on the Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala, not once, but 5 times, including this year. In 2002, the troupe had their debut appearance on the gala performing selection from "The Egretta Garzetta Goddess". That was followed by "Garbage Song" from "Shao Jianghai" in 2003, "Bride from Amoy" in 2004, and selection from "The Teacher, The Thief" in 2006.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Rojak" Broken Bridge

For those who are from my opera troupe would know that we're currently rehearsing a new excerpt titled "Broken Bridge" from "Madam White Snake". In the spirit of rehearsal, I've decided to showcase a version of this "Broken Bridge", but somewhat a rojak version. Why would I call it rojak is because this performance is a combination of Yueju, Chuanju (Sichuan opera) and Yuju (chief opera genre of Henan). The role of Madam White Snake was performed by Fang Yafen in Yueju style, Xiao Qing (green snake) performed by Xiao Xiangyu in Chuanju stye and Xu Xian by Tao Changjin in Chuanju style. One interesting part is that although the singing and acting was very much authentic, the dialogues between the 3 actors are rather funny, because the 3 characters are all speaking in different dialects and they don't seem to understand one another!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

International Hokkien Opera Gala - Hokkien Opera From China, Taiwan and Singapore to Perform Alongside Next Month

For the upcoming Chinese Cultural Festival, 3 Hokkien opera troupes, one each from Taiwan, China and Singapore respectively, will be coming together to perform in a few excerpts for our local audiences. The three troupes participating in this gala are: A Yuan Opera Troupe (阿源戏班) from Taiwan, Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe (漳州市芗剧团) from Zhangzhou, China, and our very own Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe. This performance gala will be taged over 3 nights in 3 different community clubs, and the details are as follow:

Date: 29 Feb. 2008
Venue: Tampines East Community Club theatratte
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: $10, $20
"The Secret Engagement" from "Romance of the Dragon Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"The Arrogant Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Daiyu Buries the Fallen Flowers" from "Romance of the Red Mansion" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Shanbo Bids Yingtai Farewell" from "The Butterfly Lovers" (Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe)
"Chen San Brings Water" and "Yi Chun Stops Chen San" from "Chen San Wu Niang" (A Yuan Opera Troupe)

Date: 1 Mar. 2008
Venue: Taman Jurong Community Club
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: $5
"The Secret Engagement" from "Romance of the Dragon Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"The Arrogant Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Daiyu Buries the Fallen Flowers" from "Romance of the Red Mansion" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Shanbo Bids Yingtai Farewell" from "The Butterfly Lovers" (Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe)
"Yi Chun Stops Chen San" and "Double Jealousy" from "Chen San Wu Niang" (A Yuan Opera Troupe)

Date: 2 Mar. 2008
Venue: Chong Pang Community Club multi-purpose hall
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: Free admission
"The Secret Engagement" from "Romance of the Dragon Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"The Arrogant Princess" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Daiyu Buries the Fallen Flowers" from "Romance of the Red Mansion" (Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe)
"Shanbo Bids Yingtai Farewell" from "The Butterfly Lovers" (Zhangzhou City Xiangju Opera Troupe)
"Wu Song and Pan Jinlian" (A Yuan Opera Troupe)