(originally published on: Jun 25, 2011)

sullen violinists

Here is a complete two hour concert filmed at the Shanghai Tianchan Yifu Theater.

This is yet another file found by my long rainy weekend computer backup exercise. The following song list by Fern of megapoxy.net, who kindly helped me sort out the performers, and in absolute overnight record time too! I am humbled.

This is a very interesting concert as it uses a full western orchestra along with the traditional Chinese instruments. It’s quite a mix bag, as it features the best known Beijing Opera performers like Li Shengsu, Yu Kuizhi, Wang Rongrong and Meng Guanglu along with some newer faces.

Here is Fern in italics, with me jumping in once in a while.

Wang Peiyu, famous Yu school female laosheng

1.空城计 王珮瑜 Kong Cheng Ji (Empty City Strategy) – by the cross-dressing Wang Peiyu, famous Yu school female laosheng.
She just got her first Plum Blossom and I’m really happy about it.

(Bertrand) She had me fooled.

Shi Yihong

2.贵妃醉酒 史依弘 Guifei Zuijiu (The Drunken Concubine) – by Shi Yihong
(Bertrand) We just posted the incredible “Yangmen” with this performer.

Pei Yongjie

3.打严嵩 裴永杰 Da Yan Song (Beating Yan Song) – by Pei Yongjie
Pei Yongjie, Plum winner (2001) Qi school laosheng, hongsheng (red face), head of Jilin Beijing Opera Theatre.

Li Peihong

4.龙凤呈祥 李佩红 Long Feng Cheng Xiang (The Auspicious Dragon & Phoenix) – by Li Peihong
Li Peihong, daoma, huashan of Tianjin Youth Beijing Opera Troupe also got the Plum Blossom in 2001.
Here’s another song with her from the 2011 New Year show.

An Ping

5.黑旋风李逵 安平 Hei Xuanfeng Li Kui (Li Kui, The Black Whirlwind) – by An Ping
An Ping, first-class hualian of Shanghai Beijing Opera Theatre, got his first Plum Blossom this month and I’m really happy about this, too. 😀
A 2011 New Year’s video with him, singing excerpt from The Zhao Orphan here.
(Bertrand) Fern’s not the only one to really like An Ping, there are several noticeable roars of approval from the audience during this performer’s aria.

Wang Rongrong

6.状元媒 王蓉蓉 Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) – by Wang Rongrong (who needs no introduction)

Li Jun

7.大唐贵妃 李军 Da Tang Guifei (Imperial Concubine of the Tang Dynasty) -by Li Jun
Li Jun, Yang school laosheng – his civil hairstyle is always leaving me stunned…
Here singing Wujia Po with Shi Yihong:
Excerpt from Ji Gu Ma Cao (Beating the Drum to Abuse Cao Cao):
Chen Shaoyun, An Ping and Li Jun all play a role in this opera:

(Bertrand) This is the part of the concert that for me is like a very lengthy drum solo during a rock show — “It’s time to get some snacks.”

Zhao Baoxiu

8.打龙袍 赵葆秀 Da Long Pao (Beating the Emperor’s Robe) – Zhao Baoxiu

(Bertrand jumping in again) Thank goodness someone to wake us up after Li Jun. Thank you, Zhao Baoxiu!

Zhang Ke

9.乌盆记 张克 Wu Pen Ji (Story of Black Basin) – Zhang Ke

(Bertrand ) A pleasing performer indeed.

Li Shengsu

10.西施 李胜素 Xi Shi – by Li Shengsu

(Bertrand) What a gorgeous gown! Have you ever seen anything so marvellous? No doubt this is from a Chinese designer, too. And Li Shengsu never wears a gown twice.

Meng Guanglu

11.探阴山 孟广禄 Tan Yinshan (Visiting Yin Mountain) – Meng Guanglu
I read the story to this opera previously, and finally the penny dropped that Zha Pan Guan (Beheading the Underworld Judge) you posted here:
http://operabeijing.com/?p=597 is based on this Qiu school classic with a few minor changes.

In Meng Guanglu’s words, who plays Bao Zheng in the new show, it’s “old thing with new taste”. This role is extremely hard, requires great singing skills. When Qiu Shengrong was singing this role, his fans were listening as if they were on drugs.

I wrote a summary earlier, here it is, maybe you want to add it:

The story is set during Song Renzong’s reign. At a cheerful Lantern festival a young woman, Liu Jinchan, is separated from her family in the crowd. Walking home alone, she encounters a scoundrel, Li Bao, who tries to rape her but fails. In the end he strangles the girl to death. To cover his tra cks, Li Bao moves the corpse to Yan Chasan’s doorway to frame him. The case isn’t investigated properly, Yan Chasan gets arrested and sentenced to death. He files an appeal to Bao Zheng, complaining about the injustice.

Because the circumstances of Liu Jinchan’s death are unclear, Bao Zheng descends into the underworld to ask the underworld judge, Pan Guan, to check the case in the register of life and death. Pan Guan’s book of death clearly indicates that the rapist and murderer was Yan Chasan.

Bao Zheng starts his own private investigation, going to the Yin Mountains to ask Liu Jinchan’s ghost about the truth. The ghost tells him that the real culprit was Li Bao, that Li Bao’s maternal uncle is Pan Guan and the corrupt judge altered the register of life and death without authority!

Bao Zheng gets furious about the fraud and orders Pan Guan to correct the book. Pan Guan doesn’t admit his fault, finally Bao Zheng gets angry and beheads him. Returning to the world of the living, he releases Yan Chasan and beheads Li Bao too.

(Bertrand) Lots of Meng Guanglu fans in this audience!

Xia Huihua

12.玉堂春 夏慧华 Yu Tangchun – Xia Huihua
Xia Huihua, first class Mei school qingyi from Shanghai, born in 1944.

(Bertrand) She has a good voice, too.

Chen Shaoyun

13.文天祥 陈少云 Wen Tianxiang – Chen Shaoyun
Five stars! Not enough applause!!!

(Bertrand) Fern was not pleased at all with the audience’s reaction to this performance here.

Southern opera, excerpt from one of Zhou Xinfang’s patriotic plays set during the Japanese invasion.

Li Bingshu

14.大登殿 李炳淑 Da Deng Dian (The Great Enthronement) – Li Bingshu
Same excerpt you just posted w/ Li Shengsu, great stuff for making comparisons.
Interesting about Li Bingshu is she’s singing in Mei style and also in Zhang
style simultaneously. Two of her teachers were Yan Huizhu and Wei Lianfang, both direct disciples of Mei Lanfang. Here’s a great photo of the latter w/ Mei Lanfang:

(Bertrand) She’s a dead ringer for my Hungarian mother. Mom! Is that you?!?

Yu Kuizhi

15.上天台 于魁智 Shangtian Tai (Ascending the Heavenly Altar) – Yu Kuizhi
Great aria to show off vocal skills. 🙂 What to add? Nice tie.

(Bertrand) Fern and I keep disagreeing on Yu’s neckties. This one I think would have been better a uniform blue rather than with a blue pattern. But both of us agree about Yu Kuizhi: his singing is finer than fine. I myself think he is the best at what he does.

Li Youwanyun

16.凤还巢 李尤婉云 Feng Huan Chao (Phoenix Returning to the Nest) – Li Youwanyun
(not really sure how to pinyin this name…)
She’s an amateur actress from Hong Kong.

Li Youwanyun, Yu Kuizhi

17.坐宫 于魁智/李尤婉云 Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace) – Li Youwanyun, Yu Kuizhi
A photo of this performance:
http://baike.baidu.com/image/8bc3a7018d5ade59728da502 Mr. Yu is looking very
solemn on this picture.

Yan Xingpeng

18.卧龙吊孝 言兴朋 Wolong Diaoxiao (Zhuge Liang’s Condolence Visit at Chai Sang’s Funeral) – by Yan Xingpeng
Yan Xingpeng’s grandfather, Yan Jupeng founded Yan school; his father, Yan
Shaopeng is also a Yan school laosheng and for a change, his mother, Zhang
Shaolou too. Bearded family.
He got Plum Blossom in 1990, same session as Yu Kuizhi.

(Bertrand) Very nice orchestra intro here.

Li Shehgsu and her master

19.霸王别姬 李胜素 Bawang Bie Ji (Farewell My Concubine) – by Li Shengsu
Mei Baojiu is surely proud of his disciple.

Thank you so much, Fern!

As usual, here are my own quick random notes:

This is such a pleasant-sounding concert, a real crowd pleaser on all counts.

Wang Rongrong is lovely but I found her singing a bit more shrill than usual. Is this her usual repertoire or an off night? I’m not sure.

I’m still amazed by Li Shengsu’s gown.

Click here to download the video. File format is .RMVB, viewable in VLC. File size is 449 MB.


(update 2011-08 here are the original comments for this post)


  1. So your mother has a secret life as Beijing opera actress? ;)Wang Peiyu fooled me for weeks. I watched the complete opera she’s singing this excerpt from and I thought her voice is different because she’s a very young boy. I even was showing my new finding to my fiance, telling him, “Look, this boy should be very young but he’s very good!” And this is her off-stage style too, I’ve seen photos of her while recording in studio and she was wearing men’s jeans and tartan patterned shirt.
    I realized she’s female only when I read her profile. ><If you don’t like this necktie of Yu Kuizhi, just wait until I post the old video I found, he’s wearing a terrible oh-so-80s suit.
    Poor man, I’m always ranting about his outfits, but really what else to criticise? His voice surely not.Wang Rongrong is frequently singing The Top Scholar, besides Riverside Pavilion, Romance of West Chamber and Meeting by Poetry, as typical Zhang school play.Li Shengsu never wears a gown twice? Now I HAVE TO find two performances with the same gown! ;P

    Comment by Fern — June 26, 2011 @ 1:32 am

  2. My Mom has a much stronger voice!Comment by bertrand — June 26, 2011 @ 9:03 am
  3. I lost a friendly bet with Fern, Li Shengsu wore that gown again in this amateur video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7n2rtHvckAComment by Bertrand — July 26, 2011 @ 8:38 am