Li Shengsu 李胜素


Spring Festival

Click here for Part 1 of the video

Click here for Part 2 of the video

Click here for Part 3 of the video

Here is the full cast list typed up by Fern, which originally she posted here.

Hosts:Ren Luyu 任鲁豫、Zhang Zhe 张喆、Dong Yi 董艺、Fu Yulong 付玉龙

Honored guests:Lei Kesheng 雷恪生、Xu Di 许娣、Liu Guijuan 刘桂娟、He Yunwei 何云伟、Li  Jing 李菁、Song Xiaochuan 宋小川 and others

(1) Heaven and Earth All Auspicious 《天上人间共吉祥》 – Li Jun 李军、Hu Xuan 胡璇、Jiang Yishan 姜亦珊、Dou Xiaoxuan 窦晓璇 、Xu Mengke 徐孟珂、Liu Zhen 刘宸 and others

(2) Comic dialog In the year of the Horse let’s sing “Ma” 相声《马年唱马》- He Yunwei 何云伟、Li  Jing 李菁

(3) Fragrance of National Essence (Part 1)《国粹飘香》(一)

1、Beijing Opera The Wujia Slope 京剧《武家坡》 –  Zhang Jianguo 张建国、Zhao Xiujun 赵秀君

2、Beijing Opera Silang Visits his Mother·Son and Mother Meet 京剧《四郎探母·见娘》 – Zhao Baoxiu 赵葆秀、Li Baochun 李宝春

3、Beijing Opera Entering the Palace for the Second Time 京剧《二进宫》- Yu Kuizhi 于魁智、Li Shengsu 李胜素、Meng Guanglu 孟广禄

(4) Comedy sketch Restaurant Makeover 小品《酒楼蜕变》 – Li Weijian 李伟健、Liu Guijuan 刘桂娟、Wan Yu 万宇、Li Baomei 李玉梅

(5) Happy New Year Family Reunion 《欢欢喜喜过大年》 – Liu Jinquan 刘金泉、Zhai Mo 翟墨、Liu Zhen 刘宸

1、Beijing Opera 京剧:Zhang Xinyue 张馨月、Du Zhe 杜喆

2、Shaoxing Opera 越剧:Wang Zhiping 王志萍、Zheng Guofeng 郑国凤

3、Wuxi Opera 锡剧:Zhou Dongliang 周东亮、Dong Hong 董红
Very sympathetic couple!

4、Henan Opera 豫剧:Jin Buhuan 金不换、Xu Fuxian 徐福先
This snippet was definitely the funniest thing I’ve seen in this year so far.

5、Huangmei Opera 黄梅戏:Zhou Shan 周珊、Zhou Yuanyuan 周源源

(6) Talk show My childhood Chinese Opera education 脱口秀《我的戏曲启蒙》 – Fang Qingping 方清平
This man graduated at NACTA, and now shares his memories. I always had a picture in my mind about how children are picked for this or that role, apparently I was right. “Your face is handsome, you will be trained as sheng!” “You are chubby, you’ll be trained as chou!” Fang, rather reluctantly, ended up as dan.

(7) Jinghu piece Welcome Spring 京胡协奏曲《迎春》 – Yan Shouping 燕守平、Li Zuming 李祖铭 and others

(8) Chinese Opera Skit Fulfilling a Dream 戏曲小品《圆梦》 – Tan Zhengyan 谭正岩、Fang Xu 方旭 and others
Zhengyan shows us his stilt skills…

(9) Chinese Opera Skit New Long Feng Cheng Xiang·Picking the Son-in-Law 戏曲小品《新龙凤呈祥·选婿》- He Yunwei as Jia Hua 何云伟(贾化)、Li Jing as the Empress 李菁(太后)、Zhu Qiang as Qiao Xuan 朱强(乔玄)、Wang Yuebo (pingshu performer) as Sun Quan 王玥波(孙权)、Shen Tiemei (triple Plum Blossom winner Sichuan Opera performer) as Sun Shangxiang 沈铁梅(孙尚香)、Xie Tao (Shanxi Opera performer) as Liu Bei 谢涛(刘备)、Tang Chunyuan (winner of CCTV’s Monkey King Competition) 唐春园(美猴王争霸赛金奖)

(10) The Empress Wants Opera!《太后点戏》- He Saifei 何赛飞、Zhu Shihui 朱世慧、Fu Yulong 付玉龙

1、Beijing Opera Duanmijian 京剧《断密涧》- An Ping 安平、Wang Peiyu 王珮瑜

2、Beijing Opera Empty City Strategy 京剧《空城记》 – Tan Xiaozeng 谭孝曾

3、Beijing Opera – Hebei Bangzi mix Silang Visits his Mother·Sitting in the Palace 京梆两下锅《四郎探母·坐宫》- Wang Yinghui 王英会、Wang Yan 王艳

4、Beijing Opera Famen Temple·Reading the Accusation 京剧《法门寺·念大状子》 – Zhu Shihui 朱世慧

(11) Beauty of the Country《江山美人》 表演:Bai Wenqian (piano) 白汶芊(钢琴)、Wu Yuxia (pipa) 吴玉霞(琵琶)、Wu Rujun (jinghu) 吴汝俊(京胡)、Ding Xiaojun (Yuji) 丁晓君(虞姬)、Zhang Xirui (solo dancer as Yuji) 张丝蕊(独舞虞姬)、Liu Kuikui (Xiang Yu) 刘魁魁(项羽)
It seems Ding Xiaojun is frequently recruited in these, erm, things.

(12) Happy Theater Fans《戏迷乐》- Lei Kesheng 雷恪生、Xu Di 许娣

1、Qinqiang The Unicorn Purse 秦腔《锁麟囊》- Li Junmei 李军梅 and amateur performers

2、Shaoxing Opera Butterfly Lovers 越剧《梁祝》- Xiao Ya 萧雅 and amateur performers

3、Children’s Chinese Opera Stage Journey of Culture 少儿戏曲小品《文明出行》 – Shenyang Gong Jing Children’s Art Troupe 沈阳宫静少儿艺术团

4、Children’s Beijing Opera Silang Visits his Mother·Sitting in the Palace 京剧《坐宫》- Chu Fengyi 褚沣怡、Tang Da 唐达、Hao Runlai 郝润来、Yuan Quan 袁铨、Wu Yusheng 吴雨圣

5、Children’s Beijing Opera Beating the Emperor’s Robe 京剧《打龙袍》选段 表演:褚天舒、姜舒原、李明朗

6、Beijing Opera Shajia Village 京剧《沙家浜》 “There’s a pine tree on top of Mount Tai ”“泰山顶上一棵松” – Huang Bingqiang 黄炳强 and amateur performers

(13) World Full of Spring 《春满人间》

1、Wuxi Opera Couple Grinding 锡剧《双推磨》 – Zhao Baoyue 赵保乐、Guan Bo 管波

2、“Flower drum” Opera The Woodcutter and the Fox Fairy 花鼓戏《刘海砍樵》- Zhao Yi 赵毅、Zhang Yan 张燕

3、Shaoxing Opera Dream of the Red Chamber 越剧《红楼梦》- Lü Wei 吕薇、Bai Xue 白雪

4、Huangmei Opera Fairy Couple 黄梅戏《天仙配》- Song Xiaochuan 宋小川、Li Lingyu 李玲玉

5、World Full of Spring 《春满人间》- Wu Bixia 吴碧霞、Wei Jindong 魏金栋

(14) Chinese Opera Skit On the Road to Take Office 戏曲小品《上任路上》 – Pan Changjiang 潘长江、Yu Wenhua 于文华 and others

(15) Fragrance of National Essence (Part 2)《国粹飘香》(二)

1、Beijing Opera Tale of the White Snake·Boating on the Lake 京剧《白蛇传·游湖》 – Dong Yuanyuan 董圆圆、Jin Xiquan 金喜全、Yan Hongyu 阎虹羽

2、Beijing Opera Huo Xiaoyu 京剧《霍小玉》- Zhang Jiachun 张佳春

3、Beijing Opera The Battle of Fancheng 京剧《战樊城》 – Zhang Ke 张克、Yang Shaopeng 杨少彭、Ling Ke 凌珂

4、Beijing Opera Mu Guiying Takes Command 京剧《穆桂英挂帅》- Li Peihong 李佩泓

(16) Beijing Opera Canceling the Banquet 京剧《罢宴》 – Yuan Huiqin 袁慧琴、Ni Maocai 倪茂才

(17) Newly Written Historical Beijing Opera The Whole Empire Converted 新编历史京剧《天下归心》- Meng Guanglu 孟广禄、Chen Shaoyun 陈少云、Shi Yihong 史依弘

(18) Chinese Opera Song Chinese Dream 戏歌《中国梦》- Yu Kuizhi 于魁智、Li Shengsu 李胜素、Yang Chi 杨赤、Yuan Huiqin 袁慧琴

Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu singing in the rain

Here’s a photo Fern provided of the two top stars in Beijing Opera today sopping wet on stage during a concert. Trust me, in the west if this rain had happened in a Renée Fleming concert, they would have halted the show.

Incidentally, I googled to find out if Li Shengsu’s silk blouse would be ruined, but it turns out it all depends on the quality of dye used on the silk.

This reminds me of another photo, the famous gold-colored spider silk (see here for explanation):

Spider Silk

 

Happy Lunar New Year! Here are the videos I promised.

The Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala of CCTV4 was a severely edited version, however, two excerpts appear only in this shorter edition, namely Chen Shaoyun’s costumeless Chasing Han Xin and Zhu Qiang’s Ganlu Temple. Both performers are my huge favorites, so I’m really grateful to the editor.
I converted the video to mp4 format with Handbrake, using the deinterlacing filter. Of course the original files are much better, but huge-ish (7GB) and best viewed on TV.

I downloaded the full version from the CNTV site, it comes in five parts. The screenshots below show the quality, I think it’s not bad. Five hours total, so don’t forget to pile up dumplings and soft drinks on your TV table if you’re adventurous enough to watch it in one go.

There are two bonus clips too, from the CCTV Spring Festival Gala: a performance by amateur jingju artists, including the adorable kid Duoduo (Li Peize), and a clip titled “New Drunken Concubine” – can you believe this elegant Guifei is actually a handsome boy?

Downloads:

CCTV4 Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala highlights edition part1
CCTV4 Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala highlights edition part2
(mp4, 720×576)

CCTV Spring Festival Chinese Opera Gala full version
(rar, 480×360)

CCTV Spring Festival Gala amateur performers’ scene
《戏迷一家亲》 “Theater fans are one big family”
– Sanjiadian – Gao Changzhi (高长志)
– Mu Guiying Takes Command – Zhang Jie (张杰)
– Xu Ce Runs to the City Walls – Li Peize (李沛泽)
– Beheading Chen Shimei - Li Zelin (李泽林)
(VOB, 720×576)

Bonus clip
《新贵妃醉酒》Xin Guifei Zuijiu (New Drunken Concubine) – Li Yugang (李玉刚)
(VOB, 720×576)

I’m an unconditional Duoduo fan, that’s just natural he was my favorite from the show. I’m daring to say he grabbed the spirit of this character more firmly than some of the adult performers, what’s more, he’s a bit different every time, not just repeating the same performance as a robot. He appears in both the Chinese Opera Gala and the “plain” Gala, unfortunately the cameraman of the latter had a keen sense to zoom out or show the audience when a close-up of the kid was needed.
Li Zelin as underage Judge Bao was also very cute.


Duoduo as Xu Ce

Yuan Huiqin chose her excerpt wisely: the role of an armored elderly female warrior suits her much better than the miserable old lady of Golden Tortoise Fishing what she performed at the Shanghai Spring Festival concert this week. She’s not that typical old and slow-moving laodan…

I was happy that Dong Yuanyuan, my favorite Mei qingyi had the opportunity to show us her Drunken Concubine, and Li Shengsu was popularizing Female Generals of the Yangs instead.

The Red Cliff trio was excellent – and surprise of surprises, this time I liked Zhang Jianfeng more than Jin Xiquan.

Maybe Zhao Xiujun isn’t the most beautiful Zhang school qingyi of all times, and not as grandiose as Wang Rongrong, but I still like her artistic approach.


Zhao Xiujun

I don’t listen to Henan opera very often, but Li Shujian is mind-blowing, seemingly he doesn’t have to make extraordinary efforts to sing like that. I bet he will get a third Plum Blossom Award one time.

I already elaborated on in my own blog that something isn’t right about Yu Kuizhi nowadays… at least I feel so. Maybe his appointment as vice-president is too much of a burden, or he simply reached his limits, I don’t know. This time he came with an excerpt from Shang Tian Tai – there are plays he’s more an expert of, moreover, where is that sparkle in the eyes? There was a point when I thought he will fall asleep. I’m really, really disappointed, and sad as well.

Yan (Jupeng) school laosheng Chen Shengjie represents a style you don’t hear often, and he’s really good. His Zhuge Liang was so… Zhuge Liang-ish. I mean this is exactly how I imagine someone whose head is full of stratagems and serious thoughts.


Chen Shengjie

Li Baochun definitely has his own style, which couldn’t sweep me off my feet like his father’s did, but yet he’s fun to watch and Chang Qiuyue is one of my preferences – this duet was lovely.


Li Fengjie and Emperor Zhengde – men never change. Women never change.

Highlight of the show: Li Jun finally got rid of his metal kitchen scrubber-like hair that was a laughingstock of the public for way too long. Actually for the sake of a new play (also featuring Xiong Mingxia, I’ll upload it later), but the change is welcome.

And many more, many more. Enjoy!

Tracklist (highlights edition):

  • 开场舞蹈《龙腾盛世》
    Opening dance stage “Flourishing Age of the Dragon”
  • 京剧《珠帘寨》选段 表演:马 力、蓝天、傅希如
    jingju Pearl Screen Fort (Ma Li, Lan Tian, Fu Xiru)
  • 京剧《花田错》选段 表演:张佳春、唐禾香
    jingju Mistake at the Flower Field (Zhang Guichun, Tang Hexiang)
  • 豫剧《大登殿》选段 表演:李树建
    Henan opera The Great Enthronement (Li Shujian)
  • 评剧《花为媒》选段 表演:曾昭娟
    pingju Hua Wei Mei (Zeng Zhaojuan)
  • 河北梆子《穆桂英挂帅》选段 表演:许荷英
    Hebei bangzi Mu Guiying Takes Command (Xu Heying)
  • 相声《送年戏》 表演:何云伟、李菁
    comic sketch introducing different folk singing styles (He Yunwei, Li Jing)
  • 京剧《贵妃醉酒》选段 表演:董圆圆
    jingju The Drunken Concubine (Dong Yuanyuan)
  • 京剧《对花枪》选段 表演:袁慧琴
    jingju The Matching Spears (Yuan Huiqin)
  • 京剧《孙安动本》选段 表演:倪茂才
    jingju Sun An Dong Ben (Ni Maocai)
  • 京剧《大登殿》选段 表演:迟小秋
    jingju The Great Enthronement (Chi Xiaoqiu)
  • 京剧《上天台》选段 表演:于魁智
    jingju Ascending the Heavenly Altar (Yu Kuizhi)
  • 川剧《春夜喜雨》选段 表演:陈巧茹
    Sichuan opera Spring Night Welcome Rain (Chen Qiaoru)
  • 越剧《何文秀》选段 表演:萧雅
    Shaoxing opera He Wenxiu (Xiao Ya)
  • 黄梅戏《满山杜鹃》选段 表演:吴琼
    Huangmei opera Cuckoo of Manshan (Wu Qiong)
  • 京剧《赤壁》选段 表演:王越、张建峰、金喜全
    jingju Red Cliff (Wang Yue, Zhang Jianfeng, Jin Xiquan)
  • 京剧《沙桥饯别》选段 表演:王珮瑜
    jingju Farewell Dinner at Sandy Bridge (Wang Peiyu)
  • 京剧《甘露寺》选段 表演:朱强
    jingju Ganlu Temple (Zhu Qiang)
  • 京剧《太真外传》选段 表演:史依弘
    jingju Unofficial Biography of Taizhen (Shi Yihong)
  • 京剧《姚期》选段 表演:孟广禄
    jingju Yao Qi (Meng Guanglu)
  • 京剧《捉放曹》选段 表演:杨乃彭
    jingju Capturing and Releasing Cao Cao (Yang Naipeng)
  • 京剧《萧何月下追韩信》选段 表演:陈少云
    jingju Xiao He Chasing Han Xin Under the Moonlight (Chen Shaoyun)
  • 高甲戏《金龙焕彩》选段 表演:福建晋江高甲戏剧院
    Gaojia opera Brilliant Golden Dragon (Jinjiang (Fujian) Gaojia Opera Troupe)
  • 京歌《难忘今宵》 表演:丁晓君、张馨月、唐禾香、张佳春、吴昊颐、王润菁
    Beijing opera song This Night is Unforgettable (Ding Xiaojun, Zhang Xinyue, Tang Hexiang, Zhang Jiachun, Wu Haoyi, Wang Runjing

Tracklist (full edition):

  • 开场舞蹈《龙腾盛世》
    Opening dance stage “Flourishing Age of the Dragon”
  • 京剧《珠帘寨》选段 表演:马 力、蓝天、傅希如
    jingju Pearl Screen Fort (Ma Li, Lan Tian, Fu Xiru)
  • 京剧《花田错》选段 表演:张佳春、唐禾香
    jingju Mistake at the Flower Field (Zhang Guichun, Tang Hexiang)
  • 京剧《战北原》选段 表演:陈圣杰
    jingju Battle of Bei Yuan (Chen Shengjie)
  • 京剧《将相和》选段 表演:谭正岩、方旭
    jingju The Minister and The General Reconcile (Tan Zhengyan, Fang Xu)
  • 京剧《诗文会》选段 表演:赵秀君
    jingju Meeting by Poetry (Zhao Xiujun)
  • 京剧《沙桥饯别》选段 表演:王珮瑜
    jingju Farewell Dinner at Sandy Bridge (Wang Peiyu)
  • 豫剧《大登殿》选段 表演:李树建
    Henan opera The Great Enthronement (Li Shujian)
  • 评剧《花为媒》选段 表演:曾昭娟
    pingju Hua Wei Mei (Zeng Zhaojuan)
  • 1河北梆子《穆桂英挂帅》选段 表演:许荷英
    Hebei bangzi Mu Guiying Takes Command (Xu Heying)
  • 相声《送年戏》 表演:何云伟、李菁
    comic sketch (He Yunwei, Li Jing)
  • 京剧《贵妃醉酒》选段 表演:董圆圆
    jingju The Drunken Concubine (Dong Yuanyuan)
  • 京剧《对花枪》选段 表演:袁慧琴
    jingju The Matching Spears (Yuan Huiqin)
  • 京剧《孙安动本》选段 表演:倪茂才
    jingju Sun An Dong Ben (Ni Maocai)
  • 京剧《大登殿》选段 表演:迟小秋
    jingju The Great Enthronement (Chi Xiaoqiu)
  • 京剧《坐寨》选段 表演:杨赤
    jingju Sitting in the Camp (Yang Chi)
  • 京剧《金水桥》选段 表演:张艳玲
    jingju Golden Water Bridge (Zhang Yanling)
  • 戏曲小品《真假包龙图》  表演:朱世慧、王嘉庆、李泽琳、王越
    Chinese Opera skit Bao Zheng Examines the Dragon Image (Zhu Shihui, Wang Jiaqing, Li Zelin, Wang Yue)
  • 高甲戏《金龙焕彩》选段 表演:福建晋江高甲戏剧院
    Gaojia opera Brilliant Golden Dragon (Jinjiang (Fujian) Gaojia Opera Troupe)
  • 越剧《何文秀》选段 表演:萧雅
    Shaoxing opera He Wenxiu (Xiao Ya)
  • 黄梅戏《满山杜鹃》选段 表演:吴琼
    Huangmei opera Cuckoo of Manshan (Wu Qiong)
  • 昆曲《红楼梦•宝黛初见》选段 表演:邵天帅、施夏明、朱冰贞、翁佳慧
    kunqu Dream of Red Mansions – The First Meeting (Shao Tianshuai, Shi Xiaming, Zhu Bingzhen, Weng Jiahui)
  • 京剧《梅龙镇》选段 表演:李宝春(中国台湾)、常秋月
    jingju Meilong Village (Li Baochun, Chang Qiuyue)
  • 京剧《武家坡》选段 表演:谭孝曾、魏海敏(中国台湾)
    jingju Wujiapo (Tan Xiaozeng, Wei Haimin)
  • 京剧《孟母三迁》选段 表演:吴汝俊
    jingju Mencius’ Mother Relocates Three Times (Wu Rujun)
  • 少儿京剧联唱
    kiddy jingju:
    - 京剧《野猪林》选段 表演:姜舒源
    jingju Wildboar Forest (Jiang Shuyuan)
    - 京剧《穆桂英挂帅》选段 表演:赵跃然
    jingju Mu Guiying Takes Command (Zhao Yueran)
    - 京剧《天女散花》选段 表演:王萌
    jingju Heavenly Maiden Showering Flowers (Wang Meng)
    - 京剧《徐策跑城》选段 表演:李佩泽
    jingju Xu Ce Runs to the City Walls (Li Peize)
  • 戏曲小品《龙妈招亲》 表演:徐孟珂、金不换、威廉、玛利亚等
    Chinese Opera skit Mother Dragon Invites the Groom (Xu Mengke, Jin Buhuan, William, Mary etc.)
  • 京剧《龙凤呈祥》选段 表演:吕 洋 、吴昊颐、张馨月
    jingju Harmony Through a Royal Marriage (Lü Yang, Wu Haoyi, Zhang Xinyue)
  • 京剧《草船借箭》选段 表演:陈少云、朱强
    jingju Boating to Borrow Arrows (Chen Shaoyun, Zhu Qiang)
  • 京剧《捉放曹》选段 表演:杨乃彭
    jingju Capturing and Releasing Cao Cao (Yang Naipeng)
  • 京剧《赤壁》选段 表演:王越、张建峰、金喜全
    jingju Red Cliff (Wang Yue, Zhang Jianfeng, Jin Xiquan)
  • 京剧《太真外传》选段 表演:史依弘
    jingju Unofficial Biography of Taizhen (Shi Yihong)
  • 京剧《洪洋洞》选段 表演:张克
    jingju Hongyang Cave (Zhang Ke)
  • 京剧《八珍汤》选段 表演:赵葆秀、翟墨、黄丽珠
    jingju Eight Treasure Decoction (Zhao Baoxiu, Zhai Mo, Huang Lizhu)
  • 京剧《双投唐》选段 表演:安 平、张建峰
    jingju Shuang Tou Tang (An Ping, Zhang Jianfeng)
  • 京剧《三家店》选段 表演:耿其昌
    jingju Sanjia Inn (Geng Qichang)
  • 京剧《望江亭》选段 表演:王蓉蓉
    jingju Riverside Pavilion (Wang Rongrong)
  • 京剧《姚期》选段 表演:孟广禄
    jingju Yao Qi (Meng Guanglu)
  • 京剧《汉苏武》选段 表演:张建国、郭霄
    jingju Han Su Wu (Zhang Jianguo, Guo Xiao)
  • 京剧《赤壁》选段 表演:李宏图、窦晓璇
    jingju Red Cliff (Li Hongtu, Dou Xiaoxuan)
  • 京剧《下鲁城》选段 表演:杜镇杰
    jingju Battle of Lucheng (Du Zhenjie)
  • 京剧《大漠昭君》选段 表演:姜亦姗
    jingju Zhaojun of the Desert (Jiang Yishan)
  • 川剧《春夜喜雨》选段 表演:陈巧茹
    Sichuan opera Spring Night Welcome Rain (Chen Qiaoru)
  • 秦腔《彩楼配》选段 表演:李军梅
    Qinqiang Match Made at the Colorful Tower (Li Junmei)
  • 沪剧《庵堂相会》选段 表演:钱思剑
    Shanghai opera Meeting in the Nunnery (Qian Sijian)
  • 二人台《挂红灯》选段 表演:许美珍、蒙吉珍
    Inner Mongolian folk duet Watching the Lanterns (Xu Meizhen, Meng Jizhen)
  • 相声《学唱现代戏》 表演:陈印泉、侯振鹏
    comic sketch Let’s Learn to Sing Modern Opera (Chen Yinquan, Hou Zhenpeng)
  • 京剧《黛诺》选段 表演:李维康
    jingju Dai Nuo (Li Weikang)
  • 京剧《杜鹃山》选段 表演:王润菁
    jingju Cuckoo Mountain (Wang Runjing)
  • 京剧《红色娘子军》选段  表演:丁晓君
    jingju Red Detachment of Women (Ding Xiaojun)
  • 戏曲小品《五帅闯西天》 表演:宋宁、谢楠、魏嘉艺、杨松、何军、大牛(英国)
    Chinese Opera skit Five Generals Take the Western Paradise (Song Ning, Xie Nan, Wei Jiayi, Yang Song, He Jun, Daniel (UK))
  • 京剧《坐宫》选段 表演:李军、林林
    jingju Sitting in the Palace (Li Jun, Lin Lin)
  • 京剧《凤还巢》选段 表演:包飞、兰海皎
    jingju The Phoenix Returns to the Nest (Bao Fei, Lan Haijiao)
  • 京剧《状元媒》选段 表演:薛亚萍
    jingju Top Scholar as Matchmaker (Xue Yaping)
  • 京剧《锁麟囊》选段 表演:李佩红
    The Unicorn Purse (Li Peihong)
  • 京剧《杨门女将》选段 表演:李胜素
    jingju Female Generals of the Yangs (Li Shengsu)
  • 京剧《上天台》选段 表演:于魁智
    jingju Ascending the Heavenly Altar (Yu Kuizhi)
  • 京剧武戏集锦  表演:阎虹羽、冯蕴、杨亚男等
    Jingju wuxi Best Of (Yan Hongyu, Feng Yun, Yang Yanan etc.)
  • 京歌《难忘今宵》 表演:丁晓君、张馨月、唐禾香、张佳春、吴昊颐、王润菁
    Beijing opera song This Night is Unforgettable (Ding Xiaojun, Zhang Xinyue, Tang Hexiang, Zhang Jiachun, Wu Haoyi, Wang Runjing)

What a negligent person I am!

Almost a month ago, Bertrand uploaded a great (and big) video of Silang Visits His Mother, starring Shi Yihong and Li Jun, and since he knows I’m obsessed with Jin Xiquan and Xiong Mingxia (who also appear in this staging), he kindly gave me the privilege to make a post about it.

I usually keep things (that are related to my online presence) in mind, but this time I forgot about this very pleasant “duty”of mine.

The story of Yang Yanhui, or Yang Silang (lit. “fourth son”) is one of the most popular Beijing Operas, featured by exciting story, a variety of characters and earworm arias. A version with Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu in the leading role was already posted at operabeijing.com, and Bertrand’s friend Zach provided a straightforward description of the whole story.

There are only a few things I would like to add as curiosity.

Zach mentions Yang Yanhui changed his name to Muyi upon captured, to conceal his true identity. However, his new alias also hints at his family relations. The two characters that make the traditional compound for surname Yang (楊) are mu (木) and yi (易). Very clever, isn’t it? How tricky our Silang is.

The version posted earlier omitted one character from the play: Mrs. Silang. Yang Yanhui already had a wife at home who remained loyal to him for fifteen years, and now, after Silang’s short visit, they have to bid farewell again. I definitely don’t envy this character.

The most famous act of this play is undoubtedly Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace). Bertrand already posted a video with Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu singing the most appealing snippet from the famous duet of Yang Yanhui and Princess Tiejing, but you can never have enough Zuo Gong in your Beijing Opera blog.

In the following clip, the above mentioned duo is singing the same excerpt, just wearing stage costume. It’s a 2009 recording, and Yu Kuizhi seems unusually rested and well-fed this time. I added English subtitles to it with Aegisub, to ease my conscience. Believe me, stereo Yu is fun.

Download the Zuo Gong duet here.

And now to the main performance! You will meet many familiar faces, most of them already have a category, so don’t hesitate and click those links.

Hu Xuan, the young “old lady” of Shanghai Jingju Troupe was featured recently in a complete opera here, playing the role of a poor but noble spirited elderly woman. Now we can see her again as the mother of Yang Silang. I think she deserves a category too, what do you think? *pokes Bertrand*

Young Ma school laosheng Mu Yu, playing Yang Zongbao’s father in this play, also appeared here before, both as kid and as young adult. In the latter post you can also spot Zhu Hong (Jingju Theater of Beijing Youth Troupe), starring as Silang’s wife in this performance.

Shi Yihong and Li Jun are two excellent professionals, though not particularly exciting. Possibly I won’t stand alone with the opinion that performers in the supporting roles are a bit more interesting in this production.

《四郎探母》Silang Tan Mu (The Fourth Son Visits His Mother)

Click here to download the video.

Length: 2:53:06 File size: 1,46GB, 720×576 Extension: MKV
CCTV “Theater in the Air” live broadcast, 2011-04-16
Mei Lanfang Grand Theater, Beijing
 Personal favorite spot: 1:31:20-1:32:45

Cast:
Yang Yanhui: Li Jun (李军)
Princess Tiejing: Shi Yihong (史依弘)
She Taijun: Hu Xuan (胡璇)
Empress Dowager Xiao: Xiong Mingxia (熊明霞)
Yang Yanzhao (Liulang):  Mu Yu (穆宇)
Yang Zongbao: Jin Xiquan (金喜全)
Silang’s wife: Zhu Hong (朱虹)
Brothers of the Liao Empress Dowager: Zhang Yongsheng (张永生), Mei Qingyang (梅庆羊)

The photos below, taken at this performance were borrowed from the CCTV Forums.


Compared to invisible horses and imitated boats, the prop symbolizing Silang and Tiejing’s infant is pretty realistic.
In order to get the jindalingjian (金大令箭), the big golden arrow banner of command, Princess Tiejing pinched the poor baby, and when he started to cry, the Princess said to the Empress Dowager that the infant wants to play with the arrow. The worrying royal grandmom immediately lent the lingjian to the little boy.
On the next picture, there are several other command arrows on Xiao Taihou’s table. The middle one is the “jackpot” Yang Yanhui is longing for. Besides the lingjians we can see a little packet, wrapped in yellow fabric. Despite appearances, it doesn’t contain the Empress Dowager’s lunchbox, but the seal of the commander-in-chief.


In Beijing Opera, all female characters of non-Han ethnicity wear accessories similar to Manchu court wear. The flowery “buns” on Xiao Taihou’s headdress strongly resemble the oversized wedding headpiece Empress Dowager Longyu is wearing on this picture:


Yang Zongbao is holding a lingqi (令旗), command banner to transmit orders.

Have fun watching!

(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. :D
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:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hR8sUzSbYs
Excerpt from Ji Gu Ma Cao (Beating the Drum to Abuse Cao Cao):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHfu7s6B-wg
Chen Shaoyun, An Ping and Li Jun all play a role in this opera:
http://megapoxy.net/wordpress/?p=1113

(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.
http://megapoxy.net/wordpress/?p=2640

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:
http://a0.att.hudong.com/10/65/01300000222260121952651003416.jpg

(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)

3 Comments »

  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

(originally published on: Jun 24, 2011)(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)

Li Shengsu

I was hoping to get my video collection in order by doing this web site… Truth is, I am constantly double-checking for duplicates and better versions of something I had before. Today is the first day of a long rainy weekend, so I was making backups and comparing file sizes on my external hard drives.

I found this very nice 4 minute clip of Li Shengsu, which is from the same show as this other clip.

This is from the same period when this foremost Beijing Opera star released her box set of CDs. It occurs to me that this box set, despite containing 6 CDs, must not have been a very long to record — here she shrugs off an aria with what seems to be absolutely no effort at all, easily reaching high notes a human being was perhaps never meant to reach!

I like Li Shengsu, and so does her audience here. Watching her sing is like eating from a box of fine chocolates.

Click here to download the video. File format is .RMVB, which can be viewed with VLC. File size is 29 MB.

Enjoy!

(originally published on: May 7, 2011)(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)

Hello!

Today I am presenting a 2 1/2 hour concert featuring several exciting female singers from China, all performing Chinese opera arias. The concert concludes with Li Shengsu, the foremost performer of the genre.

This file is in .AVI format, of 922MB in size, and can be played using VLC.

I’m really excited about this one, but it took quite a long time for me to post this because I needed help in identifying the performers. The following notes were kindly prepared by Fern who has a terrific blog on Peking Opera in English of her own and which I check daily.

All kinds of flowers are fragrant

Li Guojing Li Guojing (李国静) – On the Dock (海港)
Shanghai Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, mainly Mei school, also Shang school

 

Lü Huimin

Lü Huimin (吕慧敏) – Selling Water (卖水), Peach Blossom Village (桃花村)
China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class huadan, Xun school


Zhang Yanling

Zhang Yanling (张艳玲) – Princess of Shuangyang (双阳公主), Han Ming Fei (汉明妃)
Tianjin Beijing Opera Theater, first class qingyi and daomadan, Shang school

 

Liu Guijuan

Liu Guijuan (刘桂娟) – Chen Sanliang (陈三两), The Great Enthronement (大登殿)
Tianjin Youth Beijing Opera Troupe, first class qingyi, Cheng school

 

Zhang Huifang

Zhang Huifang (张慧芳) – 2 excerpts from Xie Yaohuan (谢瑶环)
Hubei Beijing Opera Theater, first class qingyi, huashan, Zhang school

 

Zhang Ping

Zhang Ping (张萍) – Qiu Jin (秋瑾), Hong Yun Gang (modern opera) (红云岗)
Beijing Military Region Comrades-in-Arms Cultural Troupe, first class dan, Zhang
school

 

Zhao Xiujun

Zhao Xiujun (赵秀君) – Number One Scholar as Matchmaker (状元媒), 2 excerpts from Romance of the West Chamber (西厢记)
Tianjin Youth Beijing Opera Troupe, first class qingyi, Zhang school

 

Liu Wei

Liu Wei (刘薇) – Romance of Chunfa and Qiulian (春秋配), Su San Sent Out Under Guard
(苏三起解)
Head of Wuhan Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, Huang school (founded by
Huang Guiqiu)

 

Deng Min

Deng Min (邓敏) – Turandot (图兰朵), Female Generals of the Yang Family (杨门女将)
China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class dan, Mei school

 

Li Haiyan

Li Haiyan (李海燕) – Zhu Yingtai Resists Marriage (英台抗婚), The Unicorn Purse (锁麟囊)
Head of China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class qingyi,
Cheng school

 

Li Jie

Li Jie (李洁) – Tale of the White Snake (白蛇传)
Jiangsu Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, Mei school

 

Chi Xiaoqiu

Chi Xiaoqiu (迟小秋) – The Unicorn Purse (锁麟囊), Su San Sent Out Under Guard (苏三起解),
The Unicorn Purse again
Beijing Peking Opera Theater, head of Beijing Peking Opera Theater Youth Troupe,
first class qingyi, Cheng school

 

Li Shengsu

Li Shengsu (李胜素) – The Unofficial Biography of Taizhen (太真外传), Mu Guiying Takes
Command (穆桂英挂帅), Remorse at Death (生死恨)
Head of China National Peking Opera Company 1st Troupe, first class qingyi,
huashan, Mei school

I hope I haven’t skipped anyone.

 

Thank you very much, Fern! Now for my own observations

It is apparent that out of make-up, some of these performers clearly struggle hard to hit their notes. Beijing Opera is not easy to sing.

I admit I am more partial to female singers (update note: that’s an understatement), so picking a favourite among these performances is like asking a 7 year old what is the best chocolate in a candy store!

I will say that although she was possibly the least photogenic, and did not gesture much, I was most impressed with the POWERFUL voice of Li Haiyan. By the screen shots above you can see the same microphone was used for all the performers and they were all standing at the same distance from it. However Li Haiyan’s voice is the only section in the concert where the microphone buzzes for ten minutes: her voice is too loud! She is a sort of hybrid, a bit of coloratura soprano with a deep voice that carries far, along with great Beijing Opera throat control. This made her a stand out, in my opinion. I don’t know anything else about her.

Deng Min was the most interesting to look at, obviously a very skilled actress. She much be superb in make-up and costume.

Best dressed was Liu Wei.

Zhao Xiujun is a ringer for Julia Pine, former guitarist of Ottawa punk band Last Prayer. Hi, Julia!

Li Shengsu is not allowed to leave after two tunes, and is chased back on stage to do one more number than the other performers.

The lighting is not optimal in this concert. Nor is the color in the video I think, I played with the video hue and saturation in VLC to get a picture I liked.

The video can be downloaded here.

Enjoy the “Flowers Fragrant” and see you next time !

(update note: here is the original comment for this post)

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks a lot for this concert!I also don’t know much about Li Haiyan, but she’s assigned to the same position (just in 2nd Troupe)as Li Shengsu, I bet the National Peking Opera Company is careful in picking its leaders.I think you hit the nail on its head with the words “most interesting” about Deng Min – previously she learned wusheng and knows two plays with massive splits and leg-over-the-head ligament hurting moves, too bad I never seen her doing those!
    And now she comes up with Turandot. Truly interesting. :)

    Comment by Fern — May 8, 2011 @ 12:00 am |Edit This

(originally published on: Apr 17, 2011)

Opening procession of "Red Cliff"

For disk space reasons, I had to remove this opera from the web site about two months ago. Here it is again!

Here is a really big download for a complete and truly spectacular opera, “Red Cliff”, featuring Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu and directed by Zhang Jigang, the assistant chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.The video file format is .RMVB, 820 MB in size, and can be played with either VLC or the Open Source “Real Alternative”. The latter allows easier scrolling through the file but I find the image not as sharp, nor adjustable as on VLC so I am not recommending it.

Click here to download the video.

A word of warning: the audio on this file contains occasional “ticks” which sound like a scratchy old vinyl record at times. It seems to come from the source, as I have downloaded alternate copies of the very same opera in other formats that also have the same flaw. I got used to the ticks but you might find them annoying. Despite this drawback, the picture and sound of this video are superb, and a real testament to this artistic coup.

“Red Cliff” is thrilling hybrid. It’s a traditional Beijing Opera but with fully modern staging, lush sets, a cast of hundreds, smoke and lighting effects, cannons, and… and… a superb cast!

Red Cliff

An English description of this opera is given here, and I am reproducing it below in italics:

Grand New Epic Peking Opera: Red Cliff

Presenter: Peking Opera House of Beijing, Beijing Guolian Symphony Orchestra, etc
Production: National Centre for the Performing Arts
Coproduction: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Peking Opera House of Beijing
Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts – Opera House
Dates: September 21 – 28, 2009 19:30
Lead Cast: Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guanglu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu, Zhang Jianfeng, Wang Yue, Wang Yan, etc.
Price: VIP 500 400 300 200 100 RMB
Programme IntroductionProducer: Chen Ping
Supervisor: Wang Yuzhen, Deng Yijiang
Playwright: Cai Fuchao
Chief Director: Zhang Jigang
Composer: Zhu Shaoyu
Stage Designer / Supervisor: Gao Guangjian
Executive Director: Shi Hongtu
The Battle of Red Cliff, a legendary battle over a thousand years ago, is an epic of fight among three states as well as magnificent heroic scenery. Last year, a Peking Opera representing the history of that battle was on the stage, showing the famous event happened over 1,800 years ago to today’s spectators.For the past 30 performances, the Peking Opera Red Cliff all played to the full house, showing the classical charm of Peking Opera and the quintessence of Chinese culture. With the theatre packed, it has been greatly received since its debut, causing a fad for Peking Opera, the quintessence of Chinese culture, with its great epic charm.

From September 21-28, this great epic Peking opera will return to the stage; 8 perfect performances will be contributed to the 60th anniversary of the foundation of People’s Republic of China.

Programme Introduction

Producer: Chen Ping

Supervisor: Wang Yuzhen, Deng Yijiang
Playwright: Cai Fuchao
Chief Director: Zhang Jigang
Composer: Zhu Shaoyu
Stage Designer / Supervisor: Gao Guangjian
Executive Director: Shi Hongtu

The Battle of Red Cliff, a legendary battle over a thousand years ago, is an epic of fight among three states as well as magnificent heroic scenery. Last year, a Peking Opera representing the history of that battle was on the stage, showing the famous event happened over 1,800 years ago to today’s spectators.

For the past 30 performances, the Peking Opera Red Cliff all played to the full house, showing the classical charm of Peking Opera and the quintessence of Chinese culture. With the theatre packed, it has been greatly received since its debut, causing a fad for Peking Opera, the quintessence of Chinese culture, with its great epic charm.

From September 21-28, this great epic Peking opera will return to the stage; 8 perfect performances will be contributed to the 60th anniversary of the foundation of People’s Republic of China.

The success of this play relies on a powerful lineup for the creation: it was adapted by Cai Fuchao, a famous playwriter; chiefly directed by Zhang Jigang, the assistant chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and executive chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing 2008 Paralympics; Zhu Shaoyu, a famous composer with a variety of 40 compositions as well as Shi Hongtu and other well-known Peking Opera artists joined in this opera. Major performers are from Peking Opera House of Beijing. Zhang Jigang has directed many plays, such as A Handful of Sour Dates, and it was his first time to direct a Peking Opera; however, he succeeded in mixing the charm of dance and the appeal of Peking Opera and showing it perfectly on the stage.

The coming performances of Red Cliff will again be played by a lineup of prestigious artists and promising rising stars. Leading Peking Opera artists nowadays including Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guanglu, Li Hongtu and Li Shengsu will play in all 10 performances, and popular young artists who have given wonderful performances earlier on including Zhang Jianfeng and Wang Yan will bring artistic enjoyment to the spectators once more in their own ways.

“Respect tradition and dare to innovate” is the artistic idea upheld throughout the creation of Red Cliff. Different from other traditional operas, TV programs and films with the same subject, the new epic Peking Opera Red Cliff shows great innovation both in story line and characterization. Some major plots, such as “A Verbal Dispute with Some Idea-men for War”, “Borrowing Arrows by Scarecrow-soldiers on Boats” and “Battle of Red Cliff”, as well as heroes and Xiao Qiao are all performed in a new artistic expression. Just as what dramatist Xu Chengbei said after watching it, “This is a successful play, with beautiful lyrics and compact plots, representing original historical facts and showing a new image of Zhou Yu, meanwhile, Zhuge Liang gets off the “alter” and acts like a ordinary people, so it more caters to the taste of modern people. “

There is a slight difference from the traditional expression with “One table and two chairs”, Chief Director Zhang Jigang and Stage Designer Gao Guangjian made bold innovations and created several marvelous scenes, such as “Borrowing Arrows by Scarecrow-soldiers on Boats” and “Battle of Red Cliff”, all of which present a unique romantic appeal of Peking Opera. Meanwhile, by inheriting traditions, Costume Designer Song Li and Aria Designer Zhu Shaoyu have both made successful exploration in their fields respectively.

As a unique treasure in Chinese culture, Peking Opera has particular national value and aesthetic value. NCPA, a national for performing arts centre, has committed itself to promoting art treasures of our nation and carrying forward our traditional culture. The grand new epic Peking Opera Red Cliff has catered to the taste of youngsters by expressing the charm of Peking Opera in new forms, and thus opened a new era of Peking Opera.

Schedule Lead Cast
Sept. 21 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu
Sept. 22 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu
Sept. 23 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu
Sept. 24 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu
Sept. 25 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu
Sept. 26 19: 30 Zhang Jianfeng, Meng Guanglu, Li Hongtu, Wang Yan
Sept. 27 19: 30 Zhang Jianfeng, Wang Yue, Li Hongtu, Wang Yan
Sept. 28 19: 30 Yu Kuizhi, Meng Guang Lu, Li Hongtu, Li Shengsu

[source:National Centre for the Performing Arts]

This video was downloaded very slowly using aMule on Linux. aMule is an eMule client. The Google Translate service I use when surfing Chinese web sites translates “eMule” as “electric ass”, which I think would be a terrific name for a rock band.

Enjoy “Red Cliff” and see you next time !

(originally published on: Apr 2, 2011) (Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)(Updated 2013-05-13 to fix links)

Thank you for these videos of my favorite Beijing Opera stars, Fern!

All videos playable in VLC. Simply right-click on the links and select “Save Link As…

Zhang Huoding

Excerpt of Beijing Opera “Wu Jia Po” with Yu Kuizhi and Zhang Huoding

I was excited by this find by Fern, this is the only video I’ve seen of Yu Kuizhi and Zhang Huoding singing together.

Unfortunately, this video of a single aria is very compressed, volume too loud and skips in one spot. With Fern’s notes, I retraced its origin back to the tudou.com web site, downloaded it again and found my download exactly the same, skipping in the same exact spot, so these are flaws in the original material.

Yu is in exceptional form! Hopefully one day they will perform together again in a full-length opera.

Small file size, about 16 MB.

Excerpt from Beijing Opera “Chang Sheng Dian” with Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu

Yu and Li

This small-width video has exceptional sound, with Li Shengsu holding her note for an extraordinary performance. You can tell she’s a non-smoker. Size of this file is large (100 MB) but don’t hesitate to get this one.

Excerpt from Beijing Opera “Chi Sang Zhen” with Meng Guanglu and Yuan Huiqin

Meng Guanglu

This song of revenge and despair is sub-titled in English. Not my favorite of the bunch. File size is 84 MB.

Excerpt from Beijing Opera “Da Long Pao” with Meng Guanglu and Yuan Huiqin

Fern likes Yuan Huiqin. In this video, she plays an “old woman” role well. I can easily picture her voice being put to good use in a revolutionary opera, because her voice is pleasing but not as instantly recognizable as some other performers.

Yuan Huiqin

Meng Guanglu

The aria on this one is very pleasing to listen to. File size is 181 MB.

Excerpt from Beijing Opera “Dui Hua Qiang” with Yuan Huiqin

Yuan Huiqin

Excerpt from Beijing Opera “Shi Wen Hui” with Wang Rongrong

(originally published on: Dec 12, 2010)

Silang Tan Mu

Hello again,

I’ve started working in a high tech startup, with fascinating work and disorienting software programming problems. Problems you think about constantly. While shaving in the morning. While walking to the bus stop. While eating lunch.

Things came to a head yesterday when I found out a co-worker two desks away from me was leaving on a business trip to China, with no time left for me to give him money or a detailed list of Beijing Opera CDs and DVDs to bring back! Talk about me not paying attention, what an opportunity missed!

It’s true that I am a collector, and that I tend to accumulate even if I have no time to stop and appreciate for a while. That is certainly the case with Peking Opera, a couple of months back I downloaded quite a few great videos and MP3s and have lacked the time to view them end to end.

One of the most interesting among these is the opera “Silang Tan Mu”, featuring the two greatest stars of Peking Opera today, Yu Kuizhi and Li Shengsu. (Added 2011-06-21) This opera also features Li Haiyan as Empress Liao, thank you to Nora for pointing that out.

My friend Zach provided the following translation for the story:

“This is a story of  the “Generals of the Yang Family”. YANG Yanhui (or YANG Silang), the fourth son of Yang family, was captured by the Liao people at the Jinshatan Battle between the Song state and the Liao-Jin State. He changed his name to Muyi, a Liao name. Later he married with Princess Tiejing of the Liao State. 15 years later, the Song state and the Liao state confronted each otherr once more in a new war. Silang heard that Liulang (the sixth son of the Yang family) was the military commander-in-chief while his mother SHE Taijun was in charge of escorting provisions. He desperately wanted to see them again. Since the two states were involved in an intense battle, he could not cross a strategic pass to meet his family. He worried for their safety. His wife the Princess Tiejing demanded to know why he was so upset. After he had revealed his true identity to her and confided his worries, the princess helped him to get the “Order Arrow”, the passport for the strategic pass. Siliang crossed the boundary line and entered the Song state’s side. YANG Zongbao (Liulang’s son) happened to be on the duty of patrol. He arrested Silang as a spy of the Liao state. Liulang recognized Silang. He released him and took him to their mother. Their meeting was bitter sweet, hugging each other, they cried loudly. Following this hasty meeting, Silang left his mother and returned to the Liao State to the Princess.”

Among the arias of this opera are “Mount Sipan” and “The Gate of Beitian (Northern Sky)”.

Zach admits “Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace)” is one of the his favorites. This is the same aria as this one.

Zach also pointed out that there are a couple of other English descriptions of this opera online, notably:

http://www.chinese.cn/quyi/en/article/2010-08/24/content_167359.htm

and

http://www.cgcmall.com/silang-visits-his-mother-dvd/

The file format is .RMVB and can be viewed using VLC.

Click here to download Part One of the video  

File size of Part 1 is 305 MB.

Click here to download Part Two of the video 

File size of Part 2 is 345 MB.

 

Thank you Zach!

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