Hmm, how about a few clips from 2008?

Sorting out folders is always beneficial, especially if you have files named like VTS_03_1ghf.VOB in them… I found a few Spring Festival classics again that I recorded earlier from CCTV4, in the good ol’ days when the editors still haven’t decided to substitute the Chinese Opera program with a cooking show…

Apropos of decisions, today at the CCTV headquarters an intense meeting is going on about the program of Theater in the Air for the next half of the year. Let’s cross our fingers for rare plays! More regional operas! Lesser seen troupes!

About the next three snippets:
You surely remember the unforgettable Nü Fuma song of the strikingly beautiful vice-president of the Hubei Huangmei Opera Theater. Now Yang Jun isn’t disguised as a man, she appears as Weaving Maid, a popular folk tale character.
The second clip features Zeng Zhaojuan again, who hypnotized Bertrand in the previous post. She was born in 1966, and is appointed as the vice-president of the Tianjin Pingju Theater.
At last, but not at least, a fantastic bangzi aria with Xu Heying from Hebei! Xu was born in 1963, and was honored with the Plum Blossom Award in 1998, together with Li Haiyan, Wang Ping.

黄梅戏《牛郎织女》到底人间欢乐多 Huangmei Opera Cowherd Boy and Weaving Maid – What Earthly Joy – Yang Jun (杨俊)

评剧《绣鞋记》Pingju Tale of the Embroidered Shoe – Zeng Zhaojuan (曾昭娟)

河北梆子《王宝钏·大登殿》Hebei Bangzi Wang Baochuan·The Great Enthronement – Xu Heying (许荷英)

I can’t resist adding the same aria performed by a 5 years old cutiepie! Isn’t it more appealing than a beauty contest with toddlers on high heels?

Kiddy Bangzi Wang Baochuan – Wang Meng (王萌)

You can download a version of the full opera from CCTV’s website in three parts here: [1] [2] [3]. Beware, Hebei Bangzi is infectious! But don’t expect the laosheng performers sound like in Beijing Opera. 😉

Although focuses on Bejing Opera, now and then we would like to introduce a few classics from other Chinese Opera genres.

As far as Huangmei Opera is concerned, Nü Fuma is a must! Don’t even try to enter Anhui without humming the popular excerpt.¹ I uploaded two versions below, an excellent slower paced one and an entertaining, pop song-like one (whenever I hear it, it gets stuck in my head for days):

《为救李郎离家园》”I left home to rescue my beloved Li Zhaoting”

Download 1.Download 2.

  1. Performed by Han Zaifen (韩再芬).
  2. Performed by Yang Jun (杨俊).

You can find countless others at YouTube.

The video of the classic 1959 TV play I downloaded from CNTV has nice sound, but there’s something in all four corners all along (logo, title etc.), and the audio track isn’t completely synchronized with the original movie. The logo-free version with more aesthetic subtitles from (VCD size) has poor sound. Finally I found a copy at that has low quality video but nice audio, it’s just a slight bit noisier than the CNTV version, and from these I compiled the file below.

In the main roles you can see Yan Fengying (严凤英) as Feng Suzhen, Tian Yulian (田玉莲) as Chun Hong the maid, Chen Wenming (陈文明) as Li Zhaoting, Pan Jingli (潘璟琍) as the princess and Xiong Shaoyun (熊少云) as Feng Shaoying.

Have fun watching!

黄梅戏《女驸马》Huangmei Opera Nü Fuma (The Emperor’s Female Son-in-Law)

Click here to download the file.

Length: 1:39:09 File size: 217MB  352×264 Extension: MP4

Summary of the story:

Feng Suzhen and Li Zhaoting love each other since childhood, and their families arrange the engagement.

Later Suzhen’s mother passes away, and Li’s family becomes bankrupt. Suzhen’s stepmother doesn’t like the poor Li Zhaoting, and forces him to withdraw from the marriage. The lovers meet in the garden, and Suzhen gives Zhaoting a jewel. Mr. Feng and his new wife show up, and accuse Zhaoting with stealing.

“Let’s send him to jail!”

To help Zhaoting, Suzhen and her loyal servant maid disguise themselves as men and enter the capital to look for Suzhen’s elder brother, Feng Shaoying. Suzhen takes the imperial exams in the name of Li Zhaoting, and unexpectedly scores as top scholar (zhuangyuan).

The Emperor’s daughter usually gets married to the finest talent, no wonder the Emperor soon arranges the match between the princess and the outstandingly handsome and intelligent top scholar. Suzhen tries to avoid the marriage, but finally she has no other option than marrying the princess.

“It’s not that I don’t like you, but…”

On their wedding night, she has to confess of course. The princess is deeply moved by the sad story and decides to help. The next day, they appear before the Emperor and the princess presents the story to his father as if it happened to someone else. The Emperor gets impressed by the brave and talented girl of the story, and tells that in his court, he would correct the injustice done to Li Zhaoting and Feng Suzhen.

Suzhen falls on her knees and says thank you. The Emperor realizes the girl in the story is exactly his “son-in-law”. What can he do, he pardons her and frees the imprisoned Li Zhaoting.

“How beautiful!”   “How handsome!”

Suzhen’s brother, Feng Shaoying comes before the Emperor to ask for pardon on his sister’s account, and meets the princess there. They fall in love at first sight, minister Liu Wenjun spots the mutual affection and immediately arranges their engagement.

Happy end!

¹ Here are the lyrics for even better bathroom singing experience:

wéi jiù lĭ láng lí jiāyuán / To save Li Zhaoting, I left my home,
shuí liào huángbăng zhōng zhuàngyuán / Who would have thought I’ll score as top scholar.
zhòng zhuàngyuán zhuó hóngpáo / As top scholar I wear the red gown,
mào chā gōnghuā hăo wa / Flowers of honor on my hat,
hăo xīnxiān nă / A very fresh experience for me.
wŏ yĕ céng fùguò qiónglínyàn / I already visited the banquet in the Jade Forest,
wŏ yĕ céng dă mă yù jiē qián / Paraded on horseback on the Emperor’s street.
rénrén kuā wŏ pān ān mào / Everyone praises me for my appearance of Pan An*,
yuánlái shāmào zhào wa zhào chánjuān nă / But this official’s hat actually covers a beautiful woman.
wŏ kăo zhuàngyuán bù wéi bă míngxiăn / I didn’t take the exams for reputation,
wŏ kăo zhuàngyuán bù wéi zuò gāoguān / I didn’t take the exams for becoming a high official,
wéile duō qíng lĭ gōngzĭ / But for my much beloved Li Zhaoting,
fūqī ēnài huā hăo yuèér yuán nă / For the perfect happiness of man and wife in conjugal love.

* A super-handsome Chinese historical figure, Pan Yue.