January 29, 2006

Xiang Opera

After watching the 6.30 mandarin news, I decided to watch a Xiangju (a type of Chinese opera) performance. I think Amai’s enthusiasm is infectious and A.C. said the Zhangzhou City Xiang Opera Troupe is a well-established troupe with several award-winning shows to its credits. Amai and A.C. are Xiangju artistes; A.C. also writes reviews of operas he has watched.



So I went to Arumugam Road, the venue of the show. The road was very clean and red cloths with auspicious words were hung all along the road. The Seng Ong Temple is at the end of this short road which is off Paya Lebar Road. Outside the temple was a row of hawkers. Just behind the hawkers was a courtyard and there was a stage for a sort of variety show or concert. Many people were already seated on the chairs in front. I thought I had come to the wrong temple. Then I saw two aunties looking at a poster of the opera shows. I asked one of them where the opera show was. She pointed inside.





The opera performances from 26 January to 11 February are part of the Temple’s spring festival activities.

I went in and I saw a make-up room. Some troupe members were powdering themselves. Just then a female artiste was walking towards the room. I looked at her. I don’t know who she is. She gave me a smile. I asked if I could take her photo. She was affable and said can. When I was taking her photo she gave me another smile. After taking the photo I said thank you and she gave me a smile again. So I collected Three Smiles. It made me think of the opera Three Smiles. Hahaha! This encounter gave me a good impression of the troupe.




I bought a ticket and went inside. It was a spacious well-ventilated quadrangle roofed over with canvas. There were more than 600 seats. On both sides of the stage were two vertical electronic boards for Chinese subtitles. As at many Chinese opera shows, the audience consisted mainly of uncles and aunties.

The performance started punctually at eight. The scenes were short and there were no breaks between them. The two artistes performing the lead male and female roles are slim and beautiful. The story was about a fairy who came down to earth and fell for a prince and so on… …

My initial observations:
The artistes do not paint their faces as red as they do in cantonese opera and their costumes and headgears are not so elaborate. But the performance style is very similar to Cantonese opera.

There were few props and backdrops. Maybe it is not the same if they perform in a theatre.

7 comments:

Victor said...

Looking at the photo of the very attractive lady who gave you 3 smiles, I already have a very good impression of the opera troupe. This is so even if she didn't smile... haha, only joking, of course. You didn't get her telephone number ah? Don't get any wrong ideas, it's purely because of common interest mah, hee.

Wish you a Happy and Prosperous CNY and may you always have good health.

A.C. said...

Ahhh!!! She's Lin Xiuzhen, my favourite actress! *jealous*

Actually the show you watched is supposed to be held over 2 days, but because locals do not fancy long shows, the director had it condensed into a 1 day show.

When they perform in theatre, it depends on whether they're performing "classic" pieces (new shows written specially for their annual chinese opera contest), the sets will be very elaborate. But countryside performances (like this one), the set will be simple, but still more elaborate than what you see now, because they're unable to bring everything over. Heard they're going to sell away some of the props after their performance because it's too bulky to bring back! Hee...

Anyway, "sum nin fai lok"! (I'm better at typing Cantonese than speak. haha...

A.C. said...

Amai had told Lin Xiuzhen about your entry about her, and she wasn't unhappy! Hee... and guess what, I've printed out your entry and passed it to the troupe! (They wanted it as an archive. Hee...)

Mimi said...

Can someone enlighten me on what is Xiangju?

Chris said...

I'm no big fan of the Chinese Opera frannxi, but I must admit your enthusiam and knowledge in this has rubbed me off somewhat. My cantonese "doesn't make the cut" and even if the opera is in Mandarin, I think without subtitles I also CNB (Catch No Ball).

About the "Three Smiles" lady... U sure she was not smiling at the person behind you? But three times was too much of a coincidence ya? Did you get her number? Or her autograph? LOL

I read the paper that the "A Dream Journey to Tany Dynasty" would be staged in Singapore from Feb 16-19 by perfomers from China, I believe. Maybe this time, you'll get more than "3 smiles!" ROTFL.

Miko said...

Mimi, XiangJu is a kind of hokkien opera and this particular troupe came from Zhang Zhou.

Anonymous said...

Miko, thanks. I had always thought Hokkien Opera is known as Ge Zai Xi. Anyway, Hokkien opera is the least of the opera that I appreciate.