September 24, 2009

帝女花 Princess Chang Ping

The Drama Centre, 19 September 2009


This Cantonese opera has been performed for more than half a century and is still one of the most-liked and the most well-known Cantonese operas. If you ask an opera fan why she likes it, probably she will say hao kan meaning 'good to see'.

Many non opera-fans and non-Cantonese are familiar with the tunes of 'xiang yao', the signature song of the opera, because it is very melodic. To them xiang yao and Di Nu Hua are synonymous. Xiang yao means fragrant death. Though melodic, xiang yao is a sad song with many words associated with death and the couple drank the poison wine at the end of the song.

A poignant tale of love, loyalty, patriotism and despair

I think people like the opera because; first, they like the songs. Second, the opera has drama and passion. It is about the tumultuous period in the short life of a young couple -  first meeting, separation, reunion and suicide. Unlike most operas which have happy endings, this opera is a tragic one. In the second scene, the emperor, the empress, the concubine and a princess died. The opera ends with the death of Princess Chang Ping and the prince consort. There are several emotional scenes.

A competent cast can evoke the audience's emotions and bring them to empathize with the princess and the prince consort.

Like many other fans I have watched it many times already. Besides performances by foreign troupes, I have seen several local groups perform this opera.

Last Saturday is the second time I watched See Too Hoi Siang and Francis Wong perform this opera after a lapse of about 10 years. The main cast is about the same as it was then and they are an experienced and competent lot. They performed very well.

I only took a few pictures after the interval, so there are no pictures of the first few scenes .


第五場,迎鳳 - 李季樺, 司徒海嫦, 王金英, 陳美玲

第六場,上表 - 王金英, 郭廣麟, 司徒海嫦, 朱振邦, 李季樺

第七場,香夭 - 司徒海嫦, 王金英

謝幕 - 鍾慧玲, 盧少玲, 黃安妮

謝幕 - 司徒海嫦, 王金英

One for the album, with MP Fatimah Lateef. She doesn't understand Cantonese. However, she came before the show started and sat more than 3.5 hours from beginning to end. I think she also didn't go out during interval.

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