April 29, 2009

Huat Ah!

I went to watch the 'thank-God' opera again at Sheng Hong Temple. That afternoon there was a group of youngsters. I heard someone called a lady 'lao shi'. I see, the lao shi had told them to come.

I thought of an email I received last year. Someone asked me if I knew who to contact because he wanted to bring his students to an afternoon Cantonese street opera show at Chinatown. At that time I thought the opera might not be suitable for students who know nothing about Chinese opera and who don't understand cantonese. It is at least 2.5 hours long and in some scenes there are just two artistes singing to each other for 25 minutes. The students would be bored to death.

Back to the present.
In this case I think it is a suitable excerpt. It is not too long and it is entertaining. There are many colourful characters and there is a sample of everything - opera skills, singing, dancing, even a bit of acrobatics and gymnastics.

There was one item which was performed in the night show but not in the afternoon - Tian Nu San Hua in which a fairy dances with long strips of colourful ribbon.

I think the lao shi have made prior arrangements with the Temple authorities because later there was food for them - just fried meehoon and curry vegetables. But only a handful of them ate the food, so the temple people told the rest of us to go and eat.

So I went to eat. The curry vegetable was soupy and made the meehoon very soggy. I should have asked for them on two separate plates. Hahaha, sounds greedy, right?

The lao shi and her charge. Later more students came. ...

Towards the end of the show the couple in the show and their son went down the stage and went to the main prayer room to pray, together with the sponsors ... Then they all shouted "Huat Ah! Huat Ah! Huat Ah!". (The Cantonese would shout 'Fatt Ah'). Traditions and prosperity are important to the Chinese.

The maids also have to follow ...

Want to get good results in your exams? Get blessings from the Goddess of Mercy ...

April 27, 2009

看戲 - 高文英

Here is one xiang opera I have not seen in Cantonese opera before. 高文英 is the name of the main character in the story. The show is quite long, 3 hours without interval and stoppage for change of scenes; but it is quite entertaining.

This is the sheng who played Gao Wen Ying .....

Very briefly the story ...

A man was maligned for murder by a powerful official in the imperial court. The punishment was beheading. The man and his family fled and they were separated. Then his wife gave birth but, because of an encounter with a tiger in the forest, her son was also separated from her. So, the man, his mother, his wife and his son were all at different parts of the country.

As usually is with Chinese opera, there is a happy ending. Finally the family were united and justice was also done.

The encounter with the tiger was a funny one - A friendly tiger that likes to do somersaults tried to snatch the baby son from the actress with its paws. During the tussle and tug-of-war the baby was tossed on to the ground. The woman ran away with the tiger running after her in two legs and waving his paws. A passerby later took the baby away.

April 25, 2009

看戲 Familiar opera titles

It was Thursday evening. Sheng Hong Temple was a hive of activities. Besides temple devotees and opera fans there was a big group learning Tai Chi at the courtyard and a small group, mainly women, learning Erhu at the third level premises.

The opera excerpts for the night :


Hello Cantonese opera fans, these are very familiar titles. You have watched them before - in Cantonese, right? But these are also xiang opera, performed in Hokkien. The music and singing are not the same. But, besides some variations, whether Cantonese or Hokkien, they belong to the same stories. It seems the Cantonese versions are longer.

The fourth one is not about the scholar revisiting the Park as an old man. It is the excerpt in which the scholar wrote his famous poem on the wall in the Park.

In the fifth excerpt, when the actor saw that his wife has committed suicide, he jumped up into the air and landed on his knees. I mentioned about this stunt before in a post 2 or 3 years ago. I said the action was dangerous, but A.C. said it was safe because the artistes were all well-trained.

There was one more excerpt but I couldn't catch its title. I asked a lady beside me; she also didn't know. Later I found some pictures of it in Shanice's blog. Below is one of them. The excerpt is from the opera

April 24, 2009

酬神戏 - 福建漳州芗剧团

Guan Yin Pu Sa

Ba Xian

It was the first time I watched a Hokkien Opera performed to thank the Gods. It lasted about 40 minutes, with numerous characters in heaven descending on the stage. Maybe it is a condensed version. It started with the Eight Immortals going to the Big Birthday Celebrations of the Grand Empress. There were also the three famous Gods (Fu, Lu Shou) and the compassionate Goddess of Mercy who sprinkled blessed water to the audience. It ended with the zhuang yuan scholar returning to his hometown and found that his wife has borne him a son.

It was performed by The Fujian Zhangzhou City Xiangju Troupe at the Sheng Hong Temple at Arumugam Road.

I asked a woman fan how often they performed this. She said everyday, because the sponsor is different for every show (I think she meant the night show). So I think they have to perform to give blessings to the sponsor.


April 22, 2009

天姬送子 Seven Fairies

I was reading this post about Chinese opera performed at temples in Singapore. This is to show our appreciation to the Gods for their help and protection (新加坡酬神戏的特色---扮仙). One characteristic of these street opera is that there is a compulsory excerpt in which the artistes portray themselves as fairies or gods, for example 八仙祝寿, 福禄寿三仙.

An excerpt also about fairies that is usually performed at cantonese street opera in Singapore is The Seven Fairies deliver a Baby to Earth.

Here is an article explaining why the opera 天姬送子 is performed at street operas. The writer also says why he likes the show. He was referring to shows in Hong Kong. The sheng in the picture is Wun Yook Yu. I don't know who the dan is.

天姬 and 仙姬, tian ji and xian ji

Tian ji refers to the seven fairies, daughters of the Jade Emperor.
Xian Ji means fairy. It is also the name of the 7th Fairy.
Each of the 7 fairies has her own name. Ji is the last word of their names.

April 20, 2009

Cure for diarrhoea

A friend sent me this information, so I post it here for you to read. I think no harm trying if you are suffering from diarrhoea. .....

When someone gets diarrhoea, sometimes the solution is so easy, we
wonder why anyone has to suffer.

The secret is in rice water.

It is rice water and not rice, that does the trick. I have found it
effective again and again.

You take a handful of rice and boil it in a
large saucepan with lots of water. Like three or four large glasses. Then you cool that and drink the water. If you are in a hurry to relieve the ailing person, take the saucepan off the fire and dunk it in a frying pan or basin of cool water with ice cubes if necessary.

This gives the patient a chance to drink the rice water sooner and cure
himself or herself sooner.

When drinking the rice water, make sure there is lots of it. You have to
tell the patient that enough water must go in to line your guts from throat to other end, all 10 to 12 metres of it. If you take rice, it stays in the stomach. If you take broth, some of it may go into the small intestine. But if you take rice water, it will carry rice grains to every inch of your small and large intestine to the end where the problem is.

April 18, 2009

Cholesterol in duck eggs

This is from last week's papers.

I have always thought that cholesterol in salted duck eggs is higher than in normal duck eggs. The information given here is contrary to what I thought. It is less, and less by more than 30%. But the sodium content is very high.

Anyway, I think you only eat salted duck eggs with plain tasteless porridge. What other ways can you eat them? Anyone knows.

April 16, 2009

Seen this scene that

The post heading is actually the name of This Blog.
The street scene videos below were taken before the Chinese New Year.

Know the name of this street?

How many jaywalkers can you catch?

April 14, 2009

Can they read Chinese ...

found these picture at another blog

April 12, 2009

A kind act

Remember last year I wrote a post about a girl working at an OCBC branch lending me an umbrella. Yesterday, a similar thing happened ...

It was mid afternoon. I was on the way home. Then it rained heavily. I took shelter at the ground floor of a block of flats. My block was not far away but a stretch of about 30m of my route had no shelter.

After a while I saw a girl coming from the direction of my block. She came to the block where I was waiting. After she walked past me, she suddenly turned back and asked me in mandarin if I needed an umbrella. I said yes. She said she stayed at the block and then offered me her umbrella. I said 'how to return it to you'. She said 'no need, give you ba'.

I took the umbrella and just smiled at her.

April 10, 2009

Opera books

These are my opera books. I used to have another one about Hong Sin Lui (Hong Xian Nu) but I think I have given it away.

I have quite a lot of opera magazines. I used to buy the 3 opera magazines published in Hong Kong regularly but now I only buy occasionally. I have written a post about this somewhere in this blog. Now there are 4 magazines.

I also have other opera publications and posters. If I spring-clean my cupboards/drawers, I'll take them out and take some pictures to show you.

April 08, 2009

da xi (2) 大戲

A little more about the opera book Da Xi.

Chinese street opera in Singapore is just one part of the book. It has a lot of information about Chinese opera. However, the photos were about street opera in Singapore.

Some topics in the book : general history of Chinese opera, history of Chinese street opera in Singapore, types of Chinese opera, roles, costumes, make-up, music, religion and superstition. The author has put a lot of effort in the book.

I have scanned more pages to show you .....

What the author says .....

Puay Tin and Amai .....

Miko .....

The Chinese words mean women cannot sit .....

A huadan touching up her face .....

A board announcing the show for the night .....

A performance in progress .....

April 06, 2009

She praised Singapore

The previous post reminded me of something that I heard during my last visit to Hong Kong.

While queuing at the Jetstar check-in counter at the HK airport for a flight back home, I heard a HK lady behind me praising Singapore. Of course I happy people praise my Country. She was chatting with another woman. She seemed to be a frequent visitor to Singapore. She mentioned 3 things - the air quality, food control and languages.

1. She said she often fell sick in HK but never sick in Singapore. She blamed the poor air quality in HK.

2. When she ate seafood in HK she got rashes, but it was ok when she ate seafood in Singapore. She praised our good food safety control.

3. She said Singapore people are very clever because they can speak many languages/dialects.

My own observations - In Singapore, depending where you are or who you are with, you can hear English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, Chinese dialects ... being spoken. But in Hong Kong you hear cantonese every where you go. Even those who know English don't speak to each other in it. At the hotels the staff at the reception speak to each other in cantonese. Anyone who looks like a Chinese, they will speak to him in cantonese. They only speak English to kwai-loh or ang-moh. And I have not heard HK people speak other Chinese dialects either.

You know, one of the places in Singapore where you can hear all the languages I mentioned above is in the staff common room in schools. English and Mandarin are common. The Malay Language teachers usually talk to each other in Malay. Likewise the Tamil Language teachers in Tamil, and quite a lot of Chinese teachers like to chit-chat to each other in dialects.

April 04, 2009

Food names

Copied these pictures from another blog:
See the food names, dare to eat or not - No. 1 Salty, complicated cakes, dumpling stuffed with crab ovary .....

amusing, right? but I think it difficult to translate the Chinese names to English

This blogger is giving away free gift sets to commemorate her blog's 4th anniversary: http://ellenaguan.blogspot.com/2009/03/blog-anniversary-give-away.html

April 02, 2009

Gay World and Sun Ma Chai

Read the post on Gay World in Times of My Life (http://timesofmylife.wordpress.com/). The pictures below are from his blog. It says Sun Ma Chai came to Singapore to perform at Happy World in 1963. Sun Ma Chai was my father's favourite singer.

This is Happy World, 快乐世界, (now known as Gay World, 繁華世界) in the early years :

The skinny grinning man is Sun Ma Chai or Sun Ma Si Zeng (新馬師曾). I don't know who the two huadans are. Anyone knows?

A write-up in the Straits Times about Sun Ma Si Zeng after his death ...

Here is a piece of one of his famous nanyin songs ...