Mon 2 Jul 2012
My peer-to-peer downloads often take a couple of weeks to finish and often when I add a link to my program, the Chinese characters in the file name becomes garbled because somewhere along the line something was not encoded in UTF-8. Weeks later, when the file is finally completely downloaded, I try to figure out what show I managed to get based only on a date and file size. Usually, Fern’s listing of current videos here resolves the problem.
In the rare cases when something isn’t listed, I check with Fern directly in case I have something she might not have yet. It’s happened before in the past, it might even happen again!
For this particular show, Fern returned me a complete cast list along with the file title and I was a bit shamed not to have noticed a couple of obvious performers as I scanned through the video. So let’s call this post a collaboration between Fern and I, adding she deserves most of the credit for this one!
This show was presented on 2006-10-02 at the Chang’an theater in Beijing. As Fern describes it, It’s a dan role “this school-that school highlights” performance. So, lots of ladies in this 3 hour show with a couple of favourite performers thrown in : Lü Yang, Li Jie and Wang Rongrong.
The show program:
Su San Sent Out Under Guard with Liu Wei
Su San Sent Under Escort has already been discussed briefly here. It is based on part of a larger opera called 《玉堂春》Yu Tangchun (Story of Su San). You can follow what happens to Su San next after this segment here.
This segment is 20 minutes long.
Liu Wei starts off well and is greeted warmly by the audience. She has a bit of a “Barbie doll” voice in her dialogues, more huādàn than qīngyī in delivery to my perception. But don’t trust what I say, it might be a particularity of the Huang school delivery. Fern has thoroughly upstaged all Chinese opera web sites with a terrific page on her blog listing different schools with sound clips here. Unfortunately no clip for the Huang school yet, so hard for me to tell at this point.
I liked the orchestration and delivery in the aria beginning at 9:31, very pleasing arrangement and execution. Highlight is 12:31, deservedly well applauded.
Jin Yunu · Bridal Room with Tang Hexiang and Liu Mingzhe
I’m not familiar with this opera or the performers. It looks like the bridegroom has some explaining to do to his lovely bride. Did he oversleep on his wedding day? I wouldn’t have in his place, Tang Hexiang promises a lot of blissful marital aggravation! Her singing at 33:34 is spectacular, and so is 37:50 to 38:00. She even has a Guo Wei profile going for her:
She’s a hot number, all right. Xun school, and a young performer from the 4th 2004 to 2008 class according to Fern’s Who’s Who. So she wasn’t even a graduate when she performed this. If you want to see her perform this bit again, try the peer to peer link Fern mentions here.
Fern added, “As I was checking this out, I discovered a typo in the opera Jin Yunu cast, although Zhang Wei is credited, the performer was obviously Liu Mingzhe, so I double checked on the net and made the change.”
The Unicorn Purse · Spring and Autumn Pavilion with Lü Yang and Zhang Chanyu
Faithful to the original play, a man plays the vivacious handmaiden in this excerpt.
The Unicorn Purse is an opera I’ve seen so often now, it has sort of become like a Hungarian cucumber salad to me, a dish which depending on where you are eating can be served hot or cold, with or without paprika, sweet or salty, and (most importantly) with or without sour cream. It’s never served the same, but it’s always the same. (In my opinion, cold, salty, with paprika and just a bit of sour cream is best I think.)
Yet no matter how blasé one might get after seeing this play too much, it’s undeniable that Lü Yang is in great voice here, dishing out unicorns with power and conviction. And no sour cream whatsoever.
Tale of the White Snake · Imprisoning Bai Suzhen with Chang Qiuyue, Liu Mingzhe, and Suo Mingfang
Had not seen embroidery like this on the white snake before (?)
Tale of the White Snake · Broken Bridge with Wang Yan, Zhang Wei, and Yan Hongyu
I liked this snake better, it has the scratchier accompanists and a more dramatic lead singer with a bigger voice.
The Drunken Concubine with Li Jie
Li Jie brings a lot of charisma and fine singing to this well-known Mei school play.
Every slow movement counts here and is intriguing to watch. At 2:06:00 she is superb.
Poco agrees with me, this segment is the best reason to download this video! Fern, is there a longer video of Li Jie in this role?
All in all, very very nice!
Top Scholar as Matchmaker with Wang Rongrong, Tan Xiaozeng, Zhu Qiang, Bao Fei.
This final segment is double the length of the others. Wang Rongrong is the star of the show tonight, and her fan club is here.
I checked my files, I have another brief video of Wang Rongrong singing an aria from this opera, but not a full-length performance. It might be worth tracking down.
Here, Wang Rongrong demonstrates simply superb control, 2:15:02 is a good case in point. She will hit these high points at least half a dozen more times during this 45 minute performance.
Wang Rongrong is a classic Beijing Opera performer: she does not overdo her roles, she is a total team player who scores goal after goal.
Wang Rongrong out of make-up looks nothing like she does in make-up. Also, you have to be pretty observant to spot the differences in costume between Li Jie and Wang Rongrong on this video.
Many audience members rush to the exits instead of applauding, which is a bit of a sad final note for an otherwise splendid show.
The original file name was 京剧-折子戏-20061002北京-旦角流派专场.mkv, the length of the show is just under 3 hours, file size is 823.4 MB. Video size is a bit smallish, but it can be stretched a bit to make it bigger and the sound is excellent.
And remember, don’t drink like a concubine and drive.