October 30, 2011


The Cantonese street opera at Chinatown sponsored by disciples of the San Wang Wu Ti religious sect completed its 15-day performance a few days ago. I think this is the only remaining Cantonese street opera in Chinatown. I watched only a few of its 30 shows.

Some fans preferred to watch from the outside.

The lead sheng and the two lead dans are popular. They received '$$$ gifts' frequently throughout the 15 days. Each flower design had a 1000-dollar note attached.

The spectator hall is wide and well-ventilated. The stage as well as the backstage is big and spacious. However, at times smoke from the burning of incense papers and joss-sticks drifted over from the prayer hall. And on some occasions, while watching the show you might also hear loud proclamations by San Wang Wu Ti's master while performing his ceremony in the prayer hall.

Attendance at the night shows were good. On Saturday and Sunday nights and the two nights of Charity songs, the organizers had to add extra seats. There were people who watched all the night and weekend shows and there were people who watched many of the shows. However, you could see that the audience consisted of mostly elderly people.

In years to come, some of these people will not be around and some will find it too cumbersome or tiring to go to watch street operas. But there are not enough younger fans to replace them.

When will the curtain fall on the SWWT street opera in Chinatown?

I found out from older fans that in the old days there were several street operas in Chinatown. For example, there used to be one at Mosque Street and there was also one at Keong Siak Road. And SWWT used to bring in troupes twice a year.

Through the years, the curtain fell on them one by one.

As for the SWWT opera, I heard they might not be able to use that piece of land for their activities in future as the land has been slated for development. Then the SWWT master of rituals might not want to do the rituals, like cutting his tongue with a knife, anymore as he is getting older. This will affect income for SWWT..

So you see, there are many negative factors regarding the continuation of the last Chinatown street opera.

October 26, 2011


This concert was the second of two night concerts staged by Chinese Theatre Circle to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The first night was 'A Showcase of CTC's signature operas'. However, there was no excerpt on another CTC's beloved opera, Madam White Snake.

What I also find missing were some well-known former CTC members who are still active in the opera scene. I think fans would be happy to see them perform their signature excerpts again.

Here are the presentations on the second night.


十三郎 - 关小萍

对花鞋 - 林嘉文, 卢少玲, 陈良兴

紅楼双玉折梅情 - 徐艳紅, 洪清芳

水淹蓝桥 - 陈沛诚

苦凤离鸾 - 罗秋鸿, 卢少玲

閒谈 - 李季桦, 卢少玲, 罗秋鸿, 徐艳紅, 陈淑桦

斩经堂 - 郭广麟, 利莲茜

Mr Law Chow Hong and his wife (second last photo, 3rd and 4th from left) are Cantonese opera songs teachers in Hong Kong.

Ms Lam Kar Mun (third photo, sheng in the centre) is an opera teacher in England.

When you see Kwan Siu Peng, she is always dressed in her trademark suit (second photo). She was the compere on the first night. I was surprised to see her in a cheongsam (or qi pao). I thought she looked nice in it and she would wear something like that on the second night too. I think it would suit the song she was singing. But she wore her trademark suit again.

Here is a low quality short clip by Law Chow Hong by Loh Siew Leng. There is a good quality video of this song, by Law Chow Hong and another female singer, at YouTube.

October 23, 2011

Lost Horizon

During my 4 years of Literature lessons in secondary school I must have read about a dozen Literature books. I can only remember three of them - Great Expectation by Charles Dickens, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and Lost Horizon. Anyone of you used Lost Horizon as a literature text?

These 3 books are not easy to read, one reason being they were written long ago and so the language the authors used is quite archaic.

Actually I can't remember who wrote Lost Horizon. I also remember little about the story or its characters except that it is about a paradise-like place called Shangri La.

So, I searched for 'lost horizon'. And here are some information.

Lost Horizon is a 1933 novel by English writer James Hilton. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains.

Hugh Conway, the character in the story, was a veteran member of the British diplomatic service. He finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La, whose inhabitants enjoy unheard-of longevity.

Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.

October 19, 2011

MPs at Chinese opera shows

MPs I saw at Chinese opera shows in previous years .....

Cedric Foo at The Frontier Community Club ...

Fatimah Lateef at The Drama Centre ...

Chan Soo Sen at Kreta Ayer People's Theatre ...

Other MPs I remember seeing were Yaacob Ibrahim and Lim Biow Chuan.

October 15, 2011

drinking wine the Chinese opera way

I found these two photos and downloaded them some time ago. I can't remember the names or web addresses of the sites or blogs. I hope the site owners won't mind I use their photos.

The huadan in the first photo is Chor Wun Yook.

This photo shows the huadan drinking wine. She holds the vessel with her lips and slowly bends her body backwards to let the wine flow down her throat. I have seen two operas in which the huadan drinks wine this way - The Drunken Gui Fei, 貴妃醉酒 and Dick Cheng, 狄青.

During the whole process she doesn't use her hands at all. She uses her mouth to grip the vessel on the tray held up by a maid and then she lifts it up with her mouth. When she has finished drinking she places the vessel back on the tray with her mouth .

I don't know what this show is or who the artistes are. Looks like this huadan has been drinking too.

October 11, 2011

seven storeys

Most horror stories are forgettable. However, there are a few that are quite unforgettable. You cannot remember details but the story line sticks in your mind. I have already mentioned one in a post somewhere in this blog. Here is another one.

A man was admitted to a hospital. It was not something serious.

This hospital has seven storeys. Patients with the least severe illness go to level 7. At each lower level, the severity of the illness increases. Level one is for patients who are going to die.

The man was admitted to level 7. Days later, for some flimsy reason he was moved down to the 6th storey. Inexplicably, as days and weeks went by he was moved to yet another lower level again and again until he was on level 1.

Is there something sinister going on in the hospital or is there some supernatural force at work?

Does it sound like a horror story to you?

Well, it is not the type that makes you scream or squirm. It is the ominous undertone that rattles you. Its horror lies in its sense of foreboding and the dread and fear that come with it.

You would not like to be admitted to such a hospital, would you?

October 08, 2011

When they were young .....

... they were cute, cuddly and adorable.

Parents wished they had a child like her. ... Fung Bo Bo,
馮宝宝. (Anyone knows who the man is.)

Or they wished they had a daughter as filial as she. ... Siew Fong Fong, 萧芳芳.

Or that their sons were as smart as he. ... Yuen Siu Fai,

The older Yuen Siu Fai, a well-known Cantonese opera artiste in HK.

The young Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee with Siew Fong Fong

Recently I had a sudden surge of interest in the old movies and movie stars. Many of the stars I have not even heard of before. Some of the old movies sound pretty interesting and the old stars look amiable, reminding me of friendly folks in my neighbourhood in the old days. Here are a few of the old stars.

蓝夜 ...

邓美美 ...

小燕飛 ...

林妹妹 ...

伊秋水 ...

李月清 ...

This was probably one of the earliest movies about Emperor Guang Xu and his concubine Zhen Fei. I have never heard Leong Mo Siong sing this song.

October 05, 2011

more nostalgic stuff - 粵語片演員

While looking for pictures for the previous post, I found some other old stuff which might be of interest to you.

1. Ng Chor Fan and Bak Yin - My father was a great fan of these two old movie stars.


2. Here is a movie starring Xie Xian and Jiang Xue. It was also shown at the then Hollywood Cinema.

3. I think this is the first Condor Heroes in Cantonese and the first Yang Guo was Xie Xian and Xiao Long Nu was Nan Hong.


4. This is probably the first Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre in Cantonese starring Cheung Ying and Bak Yin. These two stars rarely did wuxia movies. Heaven sword and Dragon Sabre is the third of The Condor Heroes Trilogy.


5. A scene from another wuxia movie, The Buddha's Palm, 如來神掌. These were the special effects in those days. These effects were to show the internal strength of the martial experts.

6. This is Cho Tat Wah. Here he was in one of his well-known roles - a detective.


7. This is Leong Sing Por in his younger days. He was not fat then.


8. Leong Sing Por at his last appearance on TV in 1980.


9. This is Mak Beng Weng, movie actor and Cantonese opera artiste. He was famous for his deep rough voice and his fans love his gruff singing.


10. The 4 famous villains in Cantonese movies, 粵語片四大奸人

Sek Kin,

Mak Kei, 麥基

Keong Chung Peng, 姜中平

粵語片四大奸人之一的姜中平因癌症逝世,終年77歲。姜中平1947 年從影,以演花花公子、鹹濕老闆著名。

Lau Hak Suen,

These two actors also often did the bad-guy role.

Long Kong,

Fung Feng
, 馮峰

October 02, 2011

nostagic stuff - old movie stars

I was reading the post on Hollywood Cinema at the blog Times of My Life. The cinema does not exist anymore. The premises are now occupied by Sheng Siong Supermarket.

I do not know if Siew Fong Fong or Fung Bo Bo performed at Hollywood Cinema before. However, I remember a movie star who made an appearance there. She was Jiang Xue,
江雪. In those days it was quite common for movie stars to make a personal appearance on stage at the cinema in conjunction with the screening of their movies.

This is Jiang Xue, 江雪.

Jiang Xue was a lead actress with the Guang Yi Movie Company, 光藝電影公司. The other more famous lead actresses were Nan Hong and Jia Ling. Jiang Xue was lesser-known and she looked like the goody type. I don't think she did any TV shows or dramas. I think after a short period she just vanished from the movie scene and there is little information about her. Nonetheless, of the three actresses she was my favourite.

This is Nan Hong, 南紅.

This is Jia Ling, 嘉玲.

And the lead actor of Guang Yi was Xie Xian, 謝賢. Unlike Jiang Xue there are plenty of news and gossips about him.

謝賢, 江雪


光藝電影公司係60年代是全盛時期,該公司出產電影質數很高,這八名影星是光藝基本演員,計有周聰, 嘉玲, 謝賢, 江雪, 余美華, 王偉, 南紅, 龍剛。

One of the last productions of the company - 《英雄本色》. Later I think there were two remakes of this movie.

Quiz for you

How many of the old stars do you recognize in these two photos? In the first photo I only know Cheung Would Yau and Bak Yin; and in the second, I only know Cheung Would Yau and Cheung Ying. I doubt anyone of you knows all of them.


Photo 1:


Photo 2: