11 August 2007 @ Esplanade Recital Studio, performed by Siong Leng Musical Association
Free seating, but the centre seats in the first 4 rows were reserved. That means more than 60 seats. So many guests? During the half-hour pre-show talk, I think only two of the reserved seats were occupied. So it looked rather odd - the speaker in front, people sitting at he back rows and in-between empty seats.
This is the stage. At one end a quaint make-up corner was set up. Just a few minutes before the show started two artistes in ancient costumes came out and sat there and pretended to do make-up. It looked very cute.
During the talk, the speaker introduced Li Yuan Opera, briefly talked about the movement and singing and the 4 main characters – the scholar, the maiden, the elderly and the comic. Then he asked the sheng Lin Shao Ling to demonstrate some movements and facial expressions of the 4 characters. I thought why not ask a dan to come out too. Hong Ru Wang or Huang Yu Ying would be good.
Then there was a demonstration by the orchestra. The musicians, in dark uniform, looked so serious, like going to take the imperial exam. The drummer is a lady from Quan Zhou. Sometimes she had to use her foot to rub on the surface of the drum as she beat the drum.
At the end of the talk the speaker said only got time for 1 question. A man asked whether the performers were local or foreign. Mixed, the speaker said, 80% local and 20% foreign. I think he could have allowed a few more questions as there was a 15-min break after that.
The story. A scholar fell for a ‘qing lou’ beauty, Li Yaxian. He was so infatuated by her that he spent all his time at the ‘qing lou’. Soon his money was all gone and he also neglected his studies for the imperial exam. He became a beggar. Later he was reunited with the beauty. To make sure the scholar concentrate on his studies, she disfigured her face. Finally the scholar topped in the imperial exam and became the ‘zhuang yuan’.
The first two scenes – the Ball Game and the Beggars’ Song (Lian Hua Luo) – are unique and interesting. I think you can only see these in Li Yuan opera.
The handsome scholar was played by Lin Shao Ling, the delicate-looking beauty by Hong Ru Wang and the likeable Ah Gui, Li Yaxian's personal maid, by Huang Yu Ying. Wang Bi Yu was the money-faced ‘qing lou’ owner who only appeared in scene one. Bi Yu also acted as one of the beggars in two other scenes.
They all gave very good performance.
The singing in Li Yuan opera was not that slow as I thought. In this opera the lead sheng has a lot of singing to do. On the other hand, Ah Gui has no singing part. However, she has plenty of speaking and dialogues, including one with the photographer. Won’t it be nice to let us hear Ah Gui sing a song or two?
The opera is entertaining and watching it is a joy. You will enjoy it even if you don’t understand the dialect.
The orchestra, the drummer had her foot on the drum.
The scholar and the beauty
Performers, Siong Leng members and guests