The first artiste in the second row is Siu Chan Wan.
Chun See wrote about ‘disappearing wayang stages’ in his blog and there was mention of a Cantonese opera artiste Siu Chan Wan. People commented that he was very good. I have also heard about him but know little about him and I watched him perform once only.
Here are two comments from Chun See’s blog (Link at the column on the right.) -
1. I think Siew Chan Wan is almost 80 and still plays a young scholar in the local scene. No doubt he is good but to see him playing a young hero (with limited movements) is a heartache. I had a picture of him playing as a young lady (mah j) and mind you, he looks 'pretty'.
2. I recall that "Siew Chan Wan" was very popular, had numerous Cantonese opera fans, and commanded a huge fee then, and apparently must be booked months or a year in advance.
I looked up my ‘opera archive’ and found the poster above. He is from Malaysia. He came in 2002 to perform at the 145th anniversary of Pat Wor Wui Kun. He performed an excerpt with a HK artiste. That was the one I watched. I remember there was some funny part. At that time I thought he was in his late 60s. I could imagine in his younger days, with his good looks and good skills, he must be the idol of many opera fans.
But I also share the sentiment that an elderly opera artiste should not play the role of someone who is, say 45 years younger. There may be exceptions. Senior citizens taking up opera mainly for recreation or leisure are also exceptions.