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.