September 25, 2005

The Guangzhou CO Troupe's Performance

At Kreta Ayer Peoples’ Theatre (4 nights full-length operas and 2 nights opera excerpts)

I watched Ngai Wai Yeng’s troupe during her previous two performing trips in Singapore. At that time she was partnering Leong Yew On. She rarely forgot or omitted a single word let alone forgot her lyric.

So it was most unlike her forgetting her lyrics several times in her performances this time round. I think it was more obvious in the second and third nights. She only performed three full-length operas.

The leading female role in another full-length opera was Tsui Yook Mui. Three of these operas were new comedies. I think they have not been performed here before.

The operas excerpts, which were replacements for a full-length opera, on the last night were only so-so with the exception of the excerpt from Xi Shi. Ngai Wai Ying was the beauty Xi Shi. Here we saw Wai Yeng at her usual self with masterful singing and fine acting.

Xi Shi was the originally scheduled opera.

The opera excerpts on the 4th night were generally more enjoyable and better performed than those on the last night. I felt that the fighting part in the excerpt ‘The eight Immortals’ stretched a bit too long.

Lai Chun Seng has certainly improved. He performed consistently well. The previous occasions I saw him were at two fund-raising shows and the opera Hua Yue Ying two years back.

Suen Yip Hong is great asset to any opera troupe. Rotund and with a smiling-Buddha face, he is a first-rate comedian. Nevertheless, he performs other roles adeptly too. Surprisingly, he could do somersaults and jump and sit on a table with ease – not something you expect from someone at his age (I think he is in his late forties.) and with his body shape.

Another comedian worthy of mention is Chan Wing Hong. He has excellent rapport with Suen Yip Hong.

I think Tsui Yook Mui and Ng Wun Fei are two ‘hua dans’ with good potentials.

Ng Fei Fan (the leading hua dan in the excerpts Mook Kwai Ying and The Eight Immortals crossing the Sea) and Lo Yue Ling ( the hua dan in the excerpts But Long Kuan and Wang Zhao Jun) ) did their martial parts well but their singings need a lot more effort.

At the Esplanade Theatre

‘Rui Wang and Zhuang Fei’ and ‘Hua Yue Ying’ (Shadow of Flowers in the Moonlight) were the two operas at the Esplanade Theatre. One is a historical piece with the Qing Court as the story background; another is a new-style opera about the tragic love story between a female opera artiste in ancient China and a high-ranking state official.

Fortunately Wai Ying did not forget her lyric.

‘Rui Wang’ is an interesting opera but is not the type that would hold your attention from beginning to end.

‘Shadow’ is more entertaining. There are poetic sceneries, sentimental music, melodious songs and creative dances. My original comments still apply:

“It is a beautiful and entertaining opera. Though innovative, it has enough traditional CO elements and flavour to make regular CO fans happy. In fact they will find it a refreshing change and those new to CO will like it as well. Perhaps it illustrates that despite innovation and modernization, CO is still enjoyable.”