February 26, 2006

Pekin Opera

Saturday evening I was at the food court at People’s Park Centre for dinner. After dinner my friends remained behind for other activities. I went to develop some photos using the auto-printing machine at one of the shops. Then I intended to visit some vcd shops in the vicinity.

On the way I met a friend. I asked if she was going for a show. No, she said, going to attend singing class. I didn’t know she had class on Saturday. So I asked how many singing classes she had in a week. Three, she said. I don’t know if they include opera class. How come she not tired, I thought – she has to go to work early in the morning and works till 5 or 6pm (off on Saturday) and she got family chore to do.

Went to the vcd shop on the first level at the end of Smith Street. This shop is always crowded. There is a wide range of vcds and dvds. Spent some time looking but bought nothing. Then went to Chinatown Food Centre to eat Chee Cheung Fun. This stall is also always crowded.

I walked down to Chinatown Square, just in time to see the last few minutes of a Pekin Opera performance by the Pei Yen Ling Opera Arts Troupe. It was just past 9pm. The last minutes were all fighting and acrobatics – there were the monkey king, 4 little monkeys, 2 painted faces, a prawn soldier, a turtle soldier and a ‘dan’ (female artiste). The audience liked the turtle with his cute face and comical actions. Here are 2 pictures I took when they were ‘undressing’.

This is the 'dan', behind her is the Prawn.

This is the Turtle.

February 17, 2006

The Chinese Cultural Festival 2006 (16/2 - 19/3)

For more information, click on this link:

Some Highlights:
click on pictures for larger versions

February 13, 2006

A Xiang Opera artiste

"Welcome to frannxis' home
I'm his page boy, Zhen Zhen."

Hi Amai, recognize me?

February 12, 2006

Xiang Opera - final night

It was the last night for the Zhangzhou City Xiang Opera Troupe. They performed for 17 nights. It must have been quite exhausting for them. It would be nice if the organizers had put a rest day in between.

It was full-house tonight. I came early as I expected more people. The hall was already half-filled. At the row in front of me a woman was showing her neighbours a stack of photos of ZZ opera artistes. Like a busybody, I went forward and asked to see some. She said 1 for 50 cents. Oh, she was selling them. I looked through and bought two.

Later everyone in the audience was given a little red bag with two mandarin oranges. I ate one. The orange was easy to peel and very sweet.

Before every performance, there was a simple ceremony. A lady in opera costume came to the edge of the stage and a man below handed her some oranges and other things. She squatted down to receive them, stood up and made a few bows before walking backstage.

The opera was one I have seen before. It didn’t matter much. There was one stunt I have not seen performed in cantonese opera before. This actor wanted to kneel down to apologize to his wife. But he did not kneel the way you and I would do. He jumped high into the air, bent his knees and then landed with both knees hitting the hard wooden floor with a loud thud. I thought it was quite dangerous - very painful and might dislocate his knees.

Just before the last scene Lin Xiuzhen came on stage and gave a short speech thanking the audience.

After the show the artistes and some other troupe members gathered on stage for a photography session. Then it was photography time for the fans. It was a joyous occasion for everyone. I took a few photos and then sat down to watch others taking pictures. Zhang Yaling, Xiuzhen and ‘The Twins’ all were smiling happily taking photos with their fans. I felt happy for them too.

I sounded like a Xiang opera fan now. Hahaha…

The empty opera stage.... what emotions does it evoke in you?
Miko : "人去楼空"
Amai : "曲終人散"


February 07, 2006

Xiang Opera 3

To Paya Lebar, To see opera, La la la la
Lebar rhymes with opera, hee hee!

Tonight – a short opera and a few excerpts

The two leading artistes were not performing. It looks like the second-generation artistes are a talented lot whether in acting or singing and the stars are the female artistes.

They are Pang Jin Lian, a female Ghost, a Woman Warrior and the Spiderwoman in the excerpt The Cave of the Silken Web.

Pang Jin Lian manipulated her extra-long water sleeves with much grace and beauty which was a joy to watch. The Ghost executed several difficult operatic moves and stunts. The Woman Warrior and the Spiderwoman displayed some excellent martial and acrobatic skills.

The first time I saw Lin Xiuzhen perform and she was a ghost! But a pretty and graceful one, hahaha.

The short opera was about an unfilial son. Though comical I feel this opera drags a bit and is unconvincing. One moment the son behaved as if his mother was nonexistence and the next moment, out of sudden realization, he became very filial.

This is the actress who played the adulterous Pang Jin Lian. Actually I had no intention of taking her photo. When I walked out after the show, a crowd was mingling outside trying to peep into transparent door of the makeup room. Maybe they were waiting for their idols to come out. Then I saw this actress signing autographs and chatting with her fans. So I just took out the camera and click!

February 04, 2006

Xiang Opera 2

Friday. After dinner at Circuit Road I walked to Seng Ong temple. It took about 20 minutes. The temple was a hive of activity. Some people were praying and some were viewing the exhibits. Tens of tables had been laid in the courtyard as there would be a feast for temple devotees. The caterers were preparing the dishes and roasting some piglets in the compound.

The opera was a comedy and much of the music was very chirpy. The story goes like this. A princess swooned over a young handsome man who was actually a lady in disguise and wanted to make her the prince-consort. Then a real handsome man appeared and the princess also swooned over him and decided to make this man the prince-consort instead. When she asked for his identity, the lady’s maid, also disguised as a man, tricked the princess and gave her the identity of a very ugly man. And so weaved a story of coincidence, mistaken identity and comical errors.

The opera is entertaining. Scenes 2 and 3 were hilarious as the court officials and then the emperor, the empress and the princess herself got to see the face of the ugly man. Also another scene in which the half-drunk princess mistakenly took the ugly man to bed.

Anyway, a happy ending. Despite her reluctance and resistance, the willful princess married the ugly man. The beautiful lady got the handsome man.

I only know the beautiful lady and the handsome man, but not the princess or the ugly man. I also can’t recognize Lin Xiu Zhen even if she was in the cast.