An Ping 安平

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

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?


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)

After Bertrand’s last post about the opera List of Honest and Incorruptible Officials, I felt an instant urge to find other Bao Zheng stories. Interestingly enough, I repeatedly bumped into cases related to the same Chenzhou incident.

The following nice video is a short, 40 minutes long version of Beijing Opera Chisangzhen, performed by the artists of Shanghai Jingju Troupe in Tianchan Yifu Theatre. In this play, Bao Zheng is beheading the corrupt son of his own foster mother. This happens right before Bao departs for Chenzhou to distribute the relief grain to the starving citizens.

The most famous excerpt from this play appeared several times in this blog, performed by different artists. You can read the summary of the story in this post, dedicated solely to Judge Bao and his numerous cases.

《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town – Righteousness Above Filial Piety)

Click here to download the video.
Length: 0:40:23 File size: 175MB, 720×576 Extension: MKV

Bao Zheng: An Ping (安平)
Wu Miaozhen: Li Hong (宏)

A few very nice photos taken at this performance:

Oh and one more note: Bao Mian was beheaded with the tiger-shaped “manual guillotine”.

Have fun watching!

This Tuesday was my lucky day. After my nervous breakdown over the Edinburgh fiasco, Bertrand sent me a superb copy of Princess Baihua, featuring Shi Yihong and my crush, Jin Xiquan – IOU heaps Bertrand! This play instantly turned into one of my favorites.

As soon as my tears dried up after Princess Baihua, I bagged another gem: one of my downloads finished in a record time of one single day – a video with a large-scale staging of the award-winning new historical drama, Success or Failure of Xiao He, performed by the Shanghai Jingju Troupe. Watching it definitely worsened my anpingitis.
Fortunately I already wrote a summary to this story, so I just lifted it with a bold copy-paste and edited it a bit according to the opera version.

An Ping in a crowd of fans after a performance at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Download a little English speaking trailer here.

In July 2004, Shanghai Jingju Troupe invited famous playwright Li Li to write screenplay for a continuation story of Beijing opera Xiao He Chasing Han Xin Under the Moonlight (萧何月下追韩信), one of Zhou Xinfang’s representative works.
Li finished the draft in a month, and in June 2006 won the Cao Yu China Theater Award for Outstanding Writing (the “Plum Blossom” of playwrights) with Success or Failure of Xiao He. The play also scored first prize at the 5th China Jingju Art Festival in November 2008, and was invited to Beijing in January next year.

In May 2010 it also won the 13th Wenhua Award at the 9th China Arts Festival in Shenzhen, moreover the revised version was entered to become part of the China National Stage Treasures Project. (According to the website of China Ministry of CultureSuccess or Failure of Xiao He was selected as one of the “Top 10” in January 2011 – outstanding plays get 1million yuan to keep up and improve performances.)

Another relatively fresh news are that the play got the National Chinese Opera Association Award 0n 18 June this year.

Sun Zhongliang, head of Shanghai Jingju Troupe said:

The success of this historical drama had many elements, but the main one was that the screenplay is brilliant!

Cheng ye Xiao He, bai ye Xiao He (what we’ll hear in the very ending scene) is a figure of speech in China, used when success and failure both stem from the same person, with a referral to Xiao He’s involvement in Han Xin’s career success and later downfall. I try to present the complete story in short at the end of this post.

《成败萧何》 Cheng Bai Xiao He (Success or Failure of Xiao He)

Click here to download the video.
Length: 2:17:41 File size: 793MB, 720×448 Extension: MKV

Xiao He: Chen Shaoyun (陈少云)
Han Xin: An Ping (安平)
Lü Zhi: Guo Ruiyue (郭睿玥)
Liu Bang: He Shu (何澍)
Zhongli Mei: Fu Xiru (傅希如)
Xiao Jingyun: Yang Yang (杨扬)

From the date of the original upload, I suspect this is a 2011 performance. According to People’s Daily in 2010,

In spite of its past success, the current production has undergone another round of rigorous revision. The plot and script were made more concise; the stage sets and costumes were also made more elaborate.

The stage set isn’t the traditional “one table, two chairs” version, but doesn’t go to extremes either. The orchestra has some symphonics, but it’s not overdone. Excellent screenplay, excellent cast – a must-have in my opinion.
The only thing I mind is that in a 2011-01-09 staging the role of Xiao Jingyun was played by Feng Yun – to score that version would have been the ultimate bliss. But Yang Yang is a lovely actress too, she will be featured here soon in a shorter and less stressful play. So stay tuned.

The historical story of Xiao He and Han Xin

[An overview of the characters.]

In 209 BC, Han Xin joined Xiang Liang’s rebel army to overthrow the Qin Dynasty, and continued serving Xiang Yu (Xiang Liang’s nephew), but he was continuously ignored and mistreated, thus he deserted Xiang Yu’s army in 206 BC and joined Liu Bang (later Emperor Gaozu), who was also Xiang Liang’s ally at that time.

Han Xin’s career under Liu Bang hasn’t started smoothly either. Soon after he deserted and entered Liu’s camp, he violated military law and faced execution, but on account of his brave behaviour he was spared and recommended to Liu Bang. Liu wasn’t impressed by Han though and put him in charge of food supplies.

In 206 BC, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu were racing to be the first to occupy Xianyang, the capital city of Qin. Liu arrived first and  Ziying, the last Qin ruler surrendered to him, thus the Qin Dynasty collapsed.
Obviously, Xiang Yu wasn’t very happy and later forced Liu’s army to retreat from Xianyang, occupied the city and burnt down the luxurious Afang Palace. Xiang divided the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms, Liu received the title “King of Han” and was relocated to the remote Bashu region.

During this time in Bashu, Xiao Hechief advisor of Liu recognized Han Xin’s brilliance in military strategy and promised to recommend him to Liu again.
Meanwhile many of Liu’s men became discontented in the remote location and deserted. Han was waiting to hear news from Xiao He about his possible promotion, but soon he became disappointed and deserted as well.
Hearing this, Xiao He immediately jump on horseback and day and night was chasing after Han Xin to bring him back, he even forgot to inform Liu Bang about his sudden leaving.
Liu had a nervous breakdown after hearing that Xiao had also deserted him, but was relieved when he saw Xiao returning with Han days later. Liu realised that Han must have extraordinary talent if Xiao He took so much trouble to take him back, and appointed Han as his military general.

While in Bashu, Liu built up his forces in preparation for a battle against Xiang Yu, and after his appointment, Han Xin devised a plan to conquer the Western Chu kingdom.
The power struggle for supremacy over China between Western Chu and Han ended in 202 BC with the Battle of Gaixia, when the Han forces led by Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu’s army. (Farewell My Concubine is based on the story of Xiang Yu and his consort, Yu Ji.)
After Xiang Yu’s death Liu Bang unified China, declared himself  Emperor of China and granted Han Xin the title of “King of Chu”.

[The opera starts around here. As an addition, Xiao He’s daughter, Jingyun is in love with Han Xin.
The Empress and other courtiers start to put a bee in Liu Bang’s bonnet about Han Xin’s intention to become Han emperor.
Highlight at 33:46 – Xiao He is blocking the Emperor’s horse. Soldiers are ordered to turn their backs on them while Xiao He is giving advice to Liu Bang. As a hint to their confidential relationship, Xiao is offered a seat, whilst the Emperor is sitting on the ground.]

After the battle of Gaixia, one of Xiang Yu’s generals, Zhongli Mei (sometimes spelled Zhongli Mo) came to Han Xin for refuge, and on account of their past friendship Han let Zhongli to stay in Chu. Emperor Gaozu ordered Han to arrest Zhongli, but he refused. To prevent Han from getting into trouble, Zhongli committed suicide a year later.

Barely 30 Fu Xiru is still flexible

[Fu Xiru, who is slowly but surely building a solid fan base in Europe, entertains us with a spectacular acrobatic performance at 39:20, accompanied by only drums and clappers.]

Han Xin brought Zhongli’s head to Gaozu and tried to confute the rumours that he was plotting a rebellion, but the Emperor ordered him to be arrested. Though Gaozu pardoned and released Han later, he still demoted him to “Marquis of Huaiyin” and became suspicious since then.

Xiao He is handing over Zhongli’s head to Liu Bang

Around 197 BC Chen Xi was planning an uprising against the Han Dynasty, and requested for Han’s support. One year later, when Emperor Gaozu was already on a military campaign to suppress Chen’s rebellion, one of Han Xin’s servants reported the incident to Empress Lü Zhi and accused his master of conspiracy with Chen.

[At 1:24:22 Xiao He realizes they’re in trouble. Han Xin and Xiao Jingyun are escaping on horseback.]

The manipulative Lü Zhi

Empress Lü asked Xiao He for help to lure Han Xin into a trap. Xiao sent an imperial edict to Han, asking him to meet the Emperor and congratulate him on the victory over Chen Xi. As soon as Han arrived, he was arrested and executed in a torturous manner in Changle Palace on charges of treason. Despite his role in Han’s death, Xiao He tried to prevent Han’s family from being completely killed and helped Han Xin’s two sons to escape the massacre.

Han Xin and Xiao Jingyun bid farewell

[In the opera, after his meeting with the Empress, Xiao He is following the fleeing couple in the night, and informs them about the Empress’ plans.
Highlight at 2:05:02 – An Ping’s big scene.
Han Xin takes the role of the scapegoat and willingly returns to Changle Palace, even though he knows he’ll meet his death. Fortunately we can’t see the execution on the stage (you can read about it in Wikipedia if you dare to); the palace gates close and we are left alone with the sorrowful Xiao He and Xiao Jingyun, who is following Han Xin into death by committing suicide.]

And the sad story ends here. I hope you’ll enjoy this drama, see you next week!

Sources: Culture, People’s Daily Online,,,

Qiu Shengrong, possibly the most well-known great master of the painted face role has been mentioned a few times lately. I realized he was born on 25 August, 1915 – so a commemorative post seems to be appropriate, though a few days later.

I decided to feature two videos: a Qiu school classic arias large-scale Beijing opera concert and a lip-synced staging of Zha Mei An. The concert is large-scale indeed, almost 3 hours long. I was pondering for a while that I edit it and post a shorter, easier-to-digest version, but finally I couldn’t “cut out” any performers.
The stage play is more friendly in size, half an hour in all.

I know it will be a little massive, but an extraordinary experience after all. Let’s rock.

《铡美案》 Zha Mei An (Legal Case of Chen Shimei)

Practically a shorter edition of Qin Xianglian. Bertrand already wrote a summary to this story, sparing me the effort. Undoubtedly Bao Zheng is the most well-known painted face character in Beijing opera, a righteous judge easily recognizable for his black face paint, with a white half-moon shaped birthmark on his forehead. He’s investigating every case carefully, and the criminals usually have to face decapitation, just like in this case.

Click here to download the video.
Length: 33:30 File size: 106MB, 480×360 Extension: MP4

Bao Zheng: Li Changchun (李长春) Voice recording: Qiu Shengrong (裘盛戎)
Chen Shimei: Xin Baoda (辛宝达) Voice recording: Li Hezeng (李和曾)


Personal favorite spot: 30:23
Click here to download this particular 1957 archive sound recording in wma format. (Courtesy of Xiaodouzhi.)

《裘韵流芳》Qiu Yun Liu Fang (The Beautiful Sound Heritage of Qiu Shengrong)

Beijing Opera concert commemorating Qiu Shengrong’s 95th birthday
30 October 2010; Mei Lanfang Grand Theater, Beijing

I found superb photos of this performance in the blog of a Qiu fan, check it out. You find more great photos here.
Many performers already have their own category here and need no introduction. The MC is Zhang Zhe again.

Click here to download this mammoth concert.
Length: 2:52:30 File size: 691MB, 720×576 Extension: MKV

1. Appreciating Beijing opera tunes:《夜深沉》Ye Shenchen (Deep Night)
A truly impressive musical performance of the accompanists.
Drummer: Yang Guangtong; jinghu: Ai Bing

2. 《姚期》Yao Qi – Kang Wansheng (康万生)

A much appreciated first-class artist from Tianjin.

3. 《赵氏孤儿》Zhaoshi Guer (The Orphan of the Zhaos) – Fang Xu (方旭)

Zhang Zhe provides us with the information that the lately featured young man is currently student of Meng Guanglu.  Old Meng’s official master was greatly appreciated teacher Fang Rongxiang (方荣翔), who happens to be the grandfather of Fang Xu. Family and disciplic relations are sometimes complicated in the Pear Garden…

Fang Rongxiang with the young Meng Guanglu

4. 《空城计》Kong Cheng Ji (Empty City Strategy) – Tan Zhengyan (谭正岩)

As I mentioned before these two are always together… Little Tan has a very characteristic voice. I change my mind weekly whether I like him or not. Download the same excerpt with Tan Fuying in MP3 format. (Courtesy of Bertrand)

5.《雪花飘》Xuehua Piao (Floating Snowflake); 《南方来信》Nanfang Laixin (Letters from the South) – Liu Jiaxin (刘嘉欣)

Female jing of Tianjin Beijing Opera Theater. I liked her. Both excerpts are from modern Beijing Operas; the first one is about a locomotive engineer who goes to find the technician at New Year’s Eve in the biggest snowstorm to get the generator of the factory fixed; the second one is from an adaptation of playwright Fu Duo’s collected letters, depicting the Vietnamese people’s fight during the war.

6. 《除三害》Chu San Hai (Eliminating Three Evils) – Wei Jijun (魏积军)

7. 《苏武牧羊》Su Wu Mu Yang (Su Wu as Shepherd) – Zhu Qiang (朱强)

My personal preference Ma school laosheng Zhu Qiang came with his trademark role Su Wu again. Check him out in Go West – Bertrand hit the nail on the head with the post title: Yu Kuizhi well accompanied. 

8. 《海瑞罢官》Hai Rui Ba Guan (Hai Rui Dismissed from Office) – Chen Junjie (陈俊杰)

After all the whole Cultural Revolution was provoked by this historical drama. It premiered in Beijing with the cast of Ma Lianliang, Qiu Shengrong and Li Duokui, and was a new attempt on Beijing Opera’s scene at those times.

Chen Junjie’s blog. Not updated since Red Cliff but has some great photos!

9. 《刺王僚》Ca Wang Liao (Stabbing Wang Liao) – Tang Yuancai (唐元才)

Plum Blossom winner (1997) Tang Yuancai has built-in jingju eyebrows. ^^

10. 《杨门女将》Yangmen Nü Jiang (Female Generals of the Yang Family) – Dong Yuanyuan (董圆圆)

Another Plum winner (2001) I’m somewhat biased towards. Dong Yuanyuan’s voice has some strange flavor I like a lot.

11. 《坐寨》Zuo Zhai (Sitting in the Camp) – Qiu Jirong (裘继戎)

12. 《将相和》Jiang Xiang He (The General and The Minister Get Reconciled) – Song Changlin (宋昌林)

And another Plummie winner (2002) from Shandong. I especially liked that he came with an excerpt that has some spoken lines. (And he wears tie clips. ;P)
One of Song Changlin’s instructors in his rookie years was also above mentioned Fang Rongxiang.

13.《周仁献嫂》Zhou Ren Xian Sao (Zhou Ren Offering His Brother’s Son) – Li Hongtu (李宏图)

Head of Mei Lanfang Troupe, Plum winner Li Hongtu doesn’t really need to be introduced. Sound emerges from him so naturally and, may I say, softly. Possibly the most Western ear friendly xiaosheng performer nowadays. Purrfect!
You can read the heart-wrenching story of Zhou Ren here.

Li Hongtu’s accompanist, Zhao Xu (赵旭)

14. 《铡美案》Zha Mei An (Legal Case of Chen Shimei) – Su Kun (苏坤)

Imposing entrant from a first-class artist of Harbin Beijing Opera Theater.

15. 《锁麟囊》Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse) – Chi Xiaoqiu (迟小秋)

I agree with Bertrand:

There is only one real unicorn tamer in China.

Being a Cheng school artist during the reign of Zhang Huoding is certainly not as easy as pie, even for a first-class performer who earned the Plum Blossom Award in its second season and leading the Youth Troupe of Beijing’s Peking Opera Theater.

16. 《探皇陵》Tan Huang Ling (Exploring the Emperor’s Tomb) – Yang Yanyi (杨燕毅)

Another disciple of Fang Rongxiang.

17.《文昭关》Wenzhao Guan (The Zhao Pass) – Du Zhenjie (杜镇杰)

Besides a Plum Blossom in 2005, Du Zhenjie harvested numerous other prizes as just reward. When entering the Peking Opera Theater of Beijing in 1986, he got constant support and directions from Ma Lianliang’s adopted son, Ma Changli (马长礼). Ma Changli was a very hardworking student of Yang school, later he became a disciple of Tan Fuying, also got guidance from the amazing Li Shaochun (李少春), and his foster father of course.
Du Zhenjie scored a very desirable father-in-law when married Ma’s daughter.

Ma Changli as Chen Shimei

18.《锁五龙》Suo Wu Long (Subduing Five Dragons); 《断密涧》Duan Mi Jian – An Ping (安平)

I go with the audience at 1:49:32.
I found a few words in an article to the second, for me totally unfamiliar opera this excerpt was from:

“This performance is said to be very difficult as actor have to master the comprehensive set of stage techniques such as singing, reciting, dance-acting and acrobatics very well. Furthermore, it is a high-pitched drama that requires actors to have a very good voice.

The play centers on rebel leader Li Mi who led rebellions against Emperor Yang of Sui in 613 and expected to establish a new dynasty but failed. He then fled to Tang Dynasty territory and submitted to Emperor Gaozu – Li Yuan with another rebel leader Wang Bodang. But the two subsequently rebelled against Tang and try to revive his army. They were finally captured and executed by Tang at Duanmijian.”


19.《西厢记》Xi Xiang Ji (Romance of the West Chamber) – Wang Rongrong (王蓉蓉)

20.《审潘洪》Shen Pan Hong (Case of Pan Hong); 《盗御马》Dao Yu Ma (Stealing the Imperial Horse) – Deng Muwei (邓沐玮)

Same high niveau we are accustomed to.

21.《打龙袍》Da Longpao (Beating the Emperor’s Robe) – Li Mingyan (李鸣岩)

Considering her age and the reactions of the audience I made a bet with myself that Li Mingyan might be a disciple of Li Duokui and I won. She graduated from the very first class of The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, and works as laodan and laosheng.
The audience is in a smaller ecstasy after this performance, hardly letting Zhang Zhe to speak. Thus she quickly announces Meng Guanglu, causing the audience to cheer even more.

22.《探阴山》Tan Yinshan  (Visiting Yin Mountain),《奇袭白虎团》Qixi Baihu Tuan (Raid on the White Tiger Regiment)  – Meng Guanglu (孟广禄)

The usual concert pieces of double Plum Blossom winner (1995, 2009) Meng Guanglu, a very friendly performer of Tianjin’s Youth Beijing Opera Troupe.

23.《罗成叫关》Luo Cheng Jiao Guan (Luo Cheng at the City Gate),《辕门射戟》Yuanmen She Ji (The Magic Arrow Shot) – Ye Shaolan (叶少兰)

Almost 70, still on stage, still teaching, and still singing well. I can’t resist to paste my favorite snapshot here, hinting at Mr. Ye’s immeasurable contribution to Beijing Opera’s xiaosheng role, with all his best of the best disciples lined up so neatly:

(left to right) Bao Fei, Song Xiaochuan, Ye Shaolan, Li Hongtu, Jin Xiquan

A younger edition costumed Ye Shaolan as Luo Cheng, crying at the city gate

24.《杜鹃山》Dujuan Shan (Cuckoo Mountain);《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town) (with Li Mingyan) – Qiu Yun (裘芸)

Daughter of Qiu Shengrong isn’t a professional Beijing Opera performer. She was the first female hualian I heard ever, and after all she inspired me to find out more about Qiu Shengrong and the role in general. So, I love her.

And here the concert ends. I hope you had fun. ^^

(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)
A Distinguished Gathering

Here is a great video Fern sent me of a complete concert from last February in Shanghai: “A Distinguished Gathering: Beijing-Tianjin-Shanghai Joint Performance“, which was filmed at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on 2011-02-17.

It might be really hot here today, but it was cold in Shanghai during the concert. Fern spotted some very good photos of everyone at this concert:
Wang Peiyu and her musicians are in winter coats during rehearsals.

rehearsing in Shanghai

Wang Peiyu

Not only the rehearsals were cold, so was the concert. Check out the audience during the concert, they have their collars turned up!  (Especially the guy wearing yellow on the left, we’ll be checking in on him frequently during the video.)

winter coats

The MC, however, is brave enough to remain sleeveless. This is not HD, so you can’t see the goose-bumps.
sleveless MC

Francis, a salesman I work with, was actually in Shanghai at about the same time as this concert was filmed. Now, if there’s one thing a Canadian is used to, it’s the winter cold. Yet when I asked Francis about his trip in China, he admitted he froze his tail off the whole time. The reason: it’s not that cold in China, it’s just that nobody heats their cars or buildings to save money. Canadians heat their houses above 15 degrees at all times during winter, even if they leave the city for two weeks. Doing the opposite is not only cheap, it’s unhealthy. Wary Canadian home owners know humid buildings under 15 degrees Celsius can easily get infested with mildew that grow between wall partitions, giving off spores that attack the lungs and cause strong asthma and allergies. Cleaning such infestations are difficult to do, require professional services and ripping out walls, which can be much more costly than the savings won by not heating. An acquaintance of mine had the habit of never heating his Ottawa region home. Ten years later, his home is worthless, and can only be torn down.

Please lower the volume on your computer before beginning, sound is about as loud as the theatre was cold.

As usual, I’ll print Fern’s comments in italics with perhaps a comment from me here or there in [regular font]. Here is Fern with the cast and song list:

Yang Shaopeng

Yang Shaopeng (杨少彭) -Zhulian Zhai (Zhulian Fort)

Zhao Huan

Zhao Huan (赵欢) – Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse)

[ I am starting to know this opera fairly well! It’s starting to be like listening to “O mio babbino caro” sung by different sopranos (my favorite version is Renée Fleming’s). This is the first time I hear Zhao Huan. To my untrained ears, she does not hit the high notes with ease, and is a bit too quiet during at least one quieter moment. She also could look a bit more relaxed and assured. I guess it’s hard to picture everyone in the audience naked when it’s that cold and they’re all dressed in winter coats. ]

Tan Xiaoling

Tan Xiaoling (谭晓令) – Silang Tan Mu (Silang Visits his Mother)

[This is the first time I see her. The audience responds well to her intro. Boisterous, a very strong voice, her style sounds almost violent to my ears! She’s a natural for Modern Beijing opera.]

Zhang Liyuan

Zhang Liyuan (张笠媛) – Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker)

[First time I hear Zhang Liyuan. Her voice is a little high, à la Li Shengsu, and she has excellent portamento. The passage at 18:40 is exceptional. This aria’s tempo could have been a bit slower for me, with more sustain on the final words of the sentences in certain passages. The accompanying instrument is also a little bit harsh and screechy. ]

Wang Peiyu

Wang Peiyu (王珮瑜) – Sou Gu Jiu Gu (The Story of the Orphan)

[Fern considers this actress a shooting star. I admit she has an excellent voice and regularly sings something I’d never heard before. Sound saturates a bit at 21:11, Wang Peiyu has a very dynamic voice, it can go from soft to very loud. ]

Xiong Mingxia

Xiong Mingxia (熊明霞) – Huo Xiaoyu

[I haven’t seen this singer before. A pretty voice, a pretty face, precise and fluid delivery. She must be terrific in full costume. ]

An Ping

An Ping (安平) – Zhaoshi Guer (The Zhao Orphan); Hei Xuanfeng Li Kui (Li Kui,
The Black Whirlwind)

[An Ping is hot this year, a Plum Blossom award in pocket. He is also featured in another concert here. A virile and masculine performer, no high pitched funny stuff going around here.]

Wang Runjing

Wang Runjing (王润菁) – Shi Wen Hui (Meeting by Poetry)

[Screechy jinghu! Wang Runjing starts this off like a siren alarm. I like the way she weaves around a note, an elegant delivery.]

Du Zhenjie

Du Zhenjie (杜镇杰) – Ganlu Si (Ganlu Temple)

[ A highly pleasing voice, with appropriate reverb. ]

Li Guojing

Li Guojing (李国静) – Xie Yaohuan

[ A truly windswept performance, Li Guojing could easily have sung this from the top of a cliff. I love the tremolo at 48:11 and 49:11 ]

Yuan Huiqin

Yuan Huiqin (袁慧琴) – Dui Huaqing (The Matching Spears)

[ A hardly recognisable out-of-costume Yuan Huiqin proves once again to be a force of nature at 52:00. She gets a roar of approval at the end of her song, prompting her to continue, hitting a truly spectacular note at 53:47.]

Jin Xichuan

Jin Xiquan (金喜全): Xiao Yan (Lü Bu and Diaochan – The Small Dinner)

[ Uncommonly good control of a very high-pitched voice. Holy cow! This is where male western audiences really hit a roadblock. Although I can tell Fern digged this, from her final comments at the end of this post. I’ll just limit myself to add that Jin Xiquan has Elvis-like eyebrow control. ]

Zhang Ke

Zhang Ke (张克) – Wenzhao Guan (The Zhao Pass)

Tang Yuancai Tang Yuancai (唐元才) – Tan Huang Ling (Exploring the Emperor’s Tomb)

[ A strong, solid presence and a great voice singing a very pleasant aria. Have we seen Tang Yuancai elsewhere? 1:15:58 is fantastic.]

Zhang Jianguo

Zhang Jianguo (张建国) – Kong Cheng Ji (Empty City Strategy)

Li Peihong

Li Peihong (李佩红) – Chun Gui Meng (Dream in a Girl’s Chamber)

[ Zhang Huoding repertoire, I can hardly listen to anyone else singing it. The audience strongly disagrees with me at 1:32:48.]

Meng Guanglu

Meng Guanglu (孟广禄) – Tan Yinshan (Visiting Yin Mountain); Qixi Baihu Tuan (Raid on the White Tiger Regiment)

I recently found this photo of Meng Guanglu applying make-up for a traditional role:

Meng Guanglu

[ Here he is singing from Yang Ban Xi, one of the 8 model works, although you couldn’t tell from his traditional approach. He is in really fine, fine voice too, I might add. And he grows on you. Note to myself: I should order a Meng Guanglu CD. Also a very interesting camera shot here of the percussionist in action. ]


[ He uses tiny drum sticks, I always thought they used woodblocks with very quick wrist action. ]

Shi Yihong

Shi Yihong (史依弘) – Mu Guiying Guashuai (Mu Guiying Takes Command)

[ For the past year or so, Shi Yihong is everywhere. Every opera she is in is peer-to-peered like crazy. She is the Beijing Opera “It girl” of the moment, it seems. No doubt she is worthy of this adulation. She has the voice and the moves. However! She surprises me, but she does not hypnotise me. 1:49:11 inspires respect but not unconditional surrender. Why is that? I can’t figure it out. ]

Chen Shaoyun

Chen Shaoyun (陈少云) – Da Yan Song (Beating Yan Song)

[ Fern likes this performer very much, but perhaps not for the same reasons she likes Jin Xiquan. ]

Yuan Huiqin, An Ping – Chisang Zhen (Red Mulberry Village)
Yes! Finally a Yuan-An version. Long live the Beijing-Shanghai cooperation!

[ An Ping is the Beijing Opera performer most likely to make a fortune from television commercials endorsing either after-shave or neck ties. He is such a guy. ]

Li Guojing, Yang Shaopeng – Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace)


Du Zhenjie, Shi Yihong, Meng Guanglu – Er Jin Gong (Entering the Palace for
the Second Time)

Audience gets the flower bouquets at the end. I surely would have broken a
few noses for Jin Xiquan’s one. [?]

Click here to download the video. File format is .MKV which can be played using VLC. File size is 603 MB.

All in all, it was really worth sitting in the cold. And getting your nose broken.


(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, 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: 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: 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: by Bertrand — July 26, 2011 @ 8:38 am