Fern attended this performance while on her latest trip in Beijing, but we won’t see her in the video during the cutaway shots to the audience, as she was perched high up in a balcony. She mentioned there was tight security going in to attend this performance, no doubt because it was televised live from the Chang’an Grand Theater in Beijing.
The video was obtained using the Vidown software, from here. It’s just one big file, one gigabyte in size. Format is mp4. Gorgeous picture, nice sound. Impressive background video screen, you’d think you were watching U2 live.
For your viewing pleasure, the program:
1. singing from Beijing Opera《挑滑车》Tiao Hua Che (Overturning the War Chariots) with Wei Lei, Yang Cheng , et al.;
I like the reed instruments on this one. The moves made me think of my chiropractor.
2. from Beijing Opera《上天台》Shang Tian Tai (Up to the Heavenly Terrace) : Zhao Jing ;
3. from 《女起解》Nü Qi Jie (Su San Sent Out Under Guard) : Meng Siqing ;
Pretty good small framed, high pitched Cheng school performer.
4. from “Hongyang Cave” : Zhang Lei ;
5 . from 《红娘》Hong Niang : Shanghai’s very expressive Yang Yang ;
6. from 《罢宴》Ba Yan (Canceling the Banquet) : Hou Yu ;
7. (at 36:21) Fern’s favorite segment, 戏曲《失子惊疯》选段 (Going Mad for the Lost Son) featuring two cross-dressing actors: Mou Yuandi, Yin Jun ;
She wrote me: “There’s a boy I like from the start, just I rarely see him on TV, Mou Yuandi, he played the role of a woman who goes crazy, amazing water sleeves, you can’t miss him in the show, 7th performer.”
Watching this, let’s say it, I can only agree with Fern. This actor has stunning technique !!! And a surprisingly good voice too. This is the best cross-dressing Beijing Opera actor I’ve ever seen, clearly demonstrating the kind of excellence the masters of the early 20th century must have had. What a show stopper.
Fern found a reference to this opera here, which I will repeat below because I’m a little wary of web sites that disappear overnight:
“戏曲《失子惊疯》选段 Going Mad for the Lost Son is a section of The Mirror of Universal Blessing, a famous show of the Shang School. Originally, Wang Yaoqing staged the show in Shanghai, playing the leading role. Shang Xiaoyun played the servant girl Shouchun, a supporting role. Later, Shang Xiaoyun made adaptations to the show, laying focus on Hu’s psychological change from joy to anxiety and then to shock, and from shock to madness. The skills of the steps, the eyes and the shuixiu (this translator’s note: shuixiu, or water sleeves, long and loose sleeves worn by opera singers that highlight stylized gestures) were further highlighted.
The shuixiu skill displayed in this show was a major part of what Shang Xiaoyun taught his students in his later years.
Hu was the wife of Mei Jun, the magistrate of Yingzhou. Pregnant for fourteen months, she hadn’t yet delivered the baby. One day, the mirror of universal blessing fell into Hu’s arms from the sky. Mei’s concubine Xu had long been jealous of Hu, so she took the opportunity to speak ill of her, saying that Hu had a demon in her belly. Hearing this, Mei tried to kill his wife. With the help of the servant girl Shouchun, Hu escaped and delivered a baby in a dilapidated kiln.
Jinyanbao, the brigand chief of the Bashan Mountain, ran into Hu one day and was attracted by her beauty. Hu was forced to go to Jinyanbao’s place in the mountain with him but was later released by his wife. Meeting Shouchun again, Hu was overjoyed, but suddenly she found that the baby was not in her arms. Anxious, Hu looked for her son everywhere but still couldn’t find him. The tragic accident drove her mad.
Years later, Hu’s son, having been adopted by someone, became the champion in the imperial examinations. After many twists and turns, he finally had a reunion with his mother.”
Fern had to tell me Yin Jun was an actor and not an actress, there was really no way of knowing, I was completely fooled.
So… when do we get to see Mou Yuandi star in this opera full length?
8. from 《黑旋风李逵》Hei Xuanfeng Li Kui (Li Kui, The Black Whirlwind) : Gao Cangjian;
9. from 《西厢记》Xi Xiang Ji (Romance of the West Chamber): Zhang Ting (张婷) of the Jingju Theater of Jiangsu Performing Arts Group (see here) ;
10. from 《文昭关》Wen Zhaoguan (The Zhao Pass): Wan Lin, Zhang Tong, and Yang Shuanghe (who was in last year’s concert too) ;
11. from《春秋配》Chun Qiu Pei (Romance of Chunfa and Qiulian) : Li Hui ;
Charming performer with truly extraordinary embroidery on her costume!
12. from 《打严嵩》Da Yan Song (Beating Yan Song) : Lu Su ;
Characteristic, particular voice.
13. from 《汉明妃》Han Ming Fei (Imperial Concubine of the Ming Dynasty): Zha Sina ;
14. from《状元媒》Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) : Zhang Qiting ;
This performer’s singing is very unique.
15. from《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town) : Jia Huaiyin, Wang Yingzheng ;
16. (at 1:41:58) from 《谢瑶环》Xie Yaohuan : Guo Xiao; ;
17. from opera 沙陀国 “Shatuo country” (?) : Wang Hao ;
18. from Suolin Nang (The Unicorn Purse) : (Lv Yaoyao, Yin Chanjuan);
This past week I downloaded so many unicorns… Zhang Huoding, Chi Xiaoqiu, Liu Guijuan, and now these nice ladies…
19. from 《苏武牧羊》Su Wu Mu Yang (Su Wu as Shepherd) : Mu Yu ;
20. from 《龙凤呈祥》Long Feng Cheng Xiang (The Auspicious Dragon and Phoenix) : Zhao Fangyuan ;
As I have said before, what a smile! If there’s a heaven, Zhao Fangyuan is serving dim sum there in full qingyi costume.
If I could ask just one Beijing Opera star from this evening out on a date, I’m pretty sure Mou Yuandi would luck out and Zhao Fangyuan would get that call. She should perhaps tone down her rolling moves, though, before people start nicknaming her the Mae West of Jingju.
Zhao Fangyuan played a role in Silang Tan Mu recently but I can’t remember that, I guess I paid too much attention to Lü Yang in that one. Will have to watch that again. But I haven’t seen her carry a full opera all by herself yet (?)
21. from《三娘教子》San Niang Jiao Zi (How the Third Wife Was Teaching the Son) : Zhang Qian, Chen Shengjie ;
22. from 《大登殿》Da Deng Dian (The Great Enthronement) : Zheng Xiao ;
23. from 《四郎探母》Silang Tan Mu (Silang Visits his Mother) : Dou Xiaoxuan, Ma Botong.
The judges’ favorite sings everyone’s favorite. I like Li and Yu myself.
All in all, so much new talent it’s scary! So many actresses to like this evening! Fern asked me to say who my favorite of this show, so I will risk an opinion. I think with competition like this, it’s not enough to come out and just sing an aria from the Unicorn Purse, you have to bring some charisma to the show with you too. Zhao Fangyuan has lots of that and so in conclusion is my favorite singer this evening. Fern, are you surprised?
The program in Chinese to help you Google or Bing or Baidu the performers you like:
本 期节目主要内容： 1、京剧《挑滑车》片断 表演：魏学雷，杨程等； 2、京剧《上天台》选段 表演：赵晶； 3、京剧《女起解》选段 表演：孟思卿； 4、京剧《洪洋洞》选段 表演：张磊； 5、京剧《红娘》选段 表演：杨扬； 6、京剧《罢宴》选段 表演：侯宇； 7、京剧《乾坤福寿镜》片断 表演：牟元笛 尹俊； 8、京剧《黑旋风李逵》片断 表演：高苍健； 9、京剧《西厢记》选段 表演：张婷； 10、京剧《文昭关》选段 表演：万琳 张桐 杨双赫； 11、京剧《春秋配》选段 表演：李慧； 12、京剧《打严嵩》选段 表演：鲁肃； 13、京剧《汉明妃》选段 表演：查思娜； 14、京剧《状元媒》选段 表演：张其婷； 15、京剧《赤桑镇》选段 表演：贾怀胤 王嬴政； 16、京剧《谢瑶环》选段 表演：郭霄； 17、京剧《沙陀国》选段 表演：王昊； 18、京剧《锁麟囊》选段 表演：吕耀瑶 殷婵娟； 19、京剧《苏武牧羊》选段 表演：穆雨； 20、京剧《龙凤呈祥》选段 表演：赵芳媛； 21、京剧《三娘教子》选段 表演：张茜 陈圣杰； 22、京剧《大登殿》选段 表演：郑潇； 23、京剧《四郎探母》选段 表演：窦晓璇 马博通。 （《CCTV空中剧院》 20140504 五四青年节京剧演唱会）
Click here to download the big video!
[Fern, please just jump in and fix anything I wrote wrong.]
Goodnight Zhao Fangyuan!