Du Zhenjie 杜镇杰



Here is the list of performers of the second concert on February 11th. Surprisingly, there was only a single laodan I didn’t know.

Zhang Kai
Zhu Hong
Mu Yu
Zheng Xiao
Li Xiaopei (This time she didn’t wear the Judge Bao blouse, you remember that right? She was wearing a pretty dress.)
Zhang Yun
Tan Zhengyan
Wang Yi
Qiu Jirong (May Qiu Shengrong throw down a lightning bolt at me from heaven, but I liked Fang Xu better.)
Du Zhe (He was supposed to sing the famous Wildboar Forest aria, but he performed Shang Tiantai instead. I think he was very good, but maybe I’m just biased.)
Jiang Yishan (Beijing audience loves her, finally she sang three excerpts.)
Zhang Jianfeng
Shen Wenli 沈文莉 (She’s the laodan I didn’t know.)
Yang Shaopeng
Bao Fei
Zhang Huifang
Du Zhenjie (Now this was a strange story. You know how good voice he has,he’s singing in Yang-style and that fits him well. Now for some reason he sang three arias in Ma style, he even announced it, with less success. What a pity.)
Yan Guixiang
Tan Xiaozeng
Li Haotian (Li Shaochun’s son was a special ad-hoc guest, and now it became obvious why Du Zhe’s Wildboar Forest was cancelled…)
Chi Xiaoqiu (I think she was just like on videos.)

The concert photo I made isn’t too splendid, only these few performers left for the curtain call, and Li Xiaopei changed dress: she’s the one in blue training clothes with high heels.

Jiang Yishan was accepted as disciple by Xue Yaping in 2000, thus entered Zhang school. In 2008, she was also accepted by Mei Baojiu, thus she entered Mei school. So what’s her status, hell knows. Btw., you and me are not the only ones baffled. From my part, I think nowadays she sounds like Mei school, but she can sing Zhang school too. She’s a pretty cheerful personality, has many fans, as host she was funny and lively.

Bao Fei never was my favorite as performer (as a private person he’s funny, kind, open-hearted, I like him), in the concert he was singing from Silang Visits his Mother, for me, it was a mild disappointment.

Mu Yu I like from the start, he has a good voice, his tone of voice also fits Ma school, and he’s really taking it seriously. Loyal to his teacher, striving hard, he surely won’t mess up Zhang Xuejin’s legacy. I’m not a great expert but even I can hear that year by year he gets better. I especially liked him in this concert.

On the 12th, I went to see the Bai Yun (White Cloud) Temple 白云观. I thought it will be like  the Fayuansi the day before, but no, here were crowds of people: visitors, incense sellers, policemen. There’s a huge underground parking lot. I saw four tourists, including myself. Almost everyone came to pray and burn incense in front of a daoist deity, there was a dozen of little shrines. It wasn’t allowed to make photos of the deities, I respected that, but now and then I couldn’t resist to zoom in a little.

in the temple

For a moment I was wondering whether I should buy one of those red ribbons you write names on, and tie it to the tree, but came to the conclusion that I don’t believe in such things so won’t spend any money on this. 😛 I made a photo that I really like, attached that (daoist monk in the window.) I also had a good shot of a Firo Extigui shor Box.

On the 13th, we went to the tumultuous temple fair at the Longtan Lake 龙潭庙会, there were many, many, many food stalls and game stalls where nobody can win the giant stuffed panda plush. I saw drum show, juggling show, ate a spicy Hui speciality, chunks of meat on a stick (it was unavoidable), but refused to eat the chunk of fat in between.

Bert loves fried squid, Fern does not

Conclusion: Bertrand loves fried squid, Fern does not.

Zhang Huoding

Fern wrote me last week:

I’m pretty excited about this new finding: a nearly 3 hours long Long Feng
Cheng Xiang with double cast, Zhang Huoding is Lady Sun in the first half
of the opera.
(source was here)

Sound is fine, video is medium.

京剧《龙凤呈祥》*Long Feng Cheng Xiang*
Qiao Xuan, Lu Su: Zhang Jianguo (张建国)
Liu Bei: Du Zhenjie (杜镇杰)
Empress Dowager Wu: Li Mingyan (李鸣岩)
Sun Shangxiang: Zhang Huoding 张火丁, Wen Ruhua (温如华)
Zhao Yun: Huang Qifeng (黄齐峰), Wang Ping (王平)
Zhou Yu: Ye Shaolan (叶少兰)
Sun Quan, Zhang Fei: Wu Yuzhang (吴钰璋)
张建国 杜镇杰 李鸣岩 张火丁 温如华 黄齐峰 王平 叶少兰 吴钰璋

I just got around to downloading this, after realising it is not the Great Enthronement (easy to confuse, the costumes are similar).

Fern just posted this opera with a different cast on her Ear Candy blog here, but because I can’t resist posting anything with Zhang Huoding in it, and since she is indeed this blog’s theme of the week, here is the video.

Watching this, when Zhang Huoding makes her entrance at 1:12 in imperial yellow, she hit a scratchy note straight off at 1:13:40 and I told myself, “Oh no! She is not in good voice!” Then at 1:14:06 she launched into a terrific 30 seconds that is simply fan-tas-tic. Okay, I know this is a fan talking, but… I would kill to see 1:14 to 1:22 in person.

I should note that although Zhang Huoding and Wen Ruhua play the same role, there is little chance you will confuse the two actors!

I used the Windows Vidown to download and automatically stitch the 20 or so video segments together. So far so good, but the resulting .flv file kept halting dead in VLC, so I converted it using Handbrake to an m4v file, which cannot be distingued from the flv and plays great in VLC. Just so I can remember what I did next time I run into this issue again, here are my Handbrake settings. (click to enlarge — say Fern, are your settings like these?)

my Handbrake settings

File size is 695 MB

Click here to download the video

Thank you, Fern.

Zhang Huoding in Wujia Slope

I’m pretty excited!

“Jamais deux sans trois” is a French saying that means “never two without three”. Here is a third Zhang Huoding find in as many days, a complete performance from 2006-11-25 of 武家坡 Wujia Po (The Wujia Slope). As Fern indicated on her blog yesterday, this is an act from the epic Hongzong Liema. Fern also indicated in my own “A Nice Surprise” post this weekend that Zhang Huoding performed this on the same day and preceding the Da Deng Dian act.

The plots for all the acts of Hongzong Liema, courtesy of Fern, are here.

I’m not sure if Fern guessed I was going to post this or not, but I think she did because she marked this as the “#1 Thing Bertrannd has to find” and I read that just as my upload to this web site was finishing up. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Anyway, this is another rare find from the zhanghuoding.com forum, an audience recording of great quality. Excellent video quality, good sound, no shaking, well-handled close ups.

Once again, if you are new to Beijing Opera, perhaps you should not start with this. But heck, you could do far worse!!!

The cast: Zhang Huoding, Du Zhenjie

File size is 414 MB, file format is old school realaudio .ra again, playable in VLC.

Click here to download the video

Be still, my beating heart…


A very nice photo of Zhang Huoding in this role, from her own 2 volume book of jingju photography (click to view larger):

Zhang Huoding

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)

As we mentioned already, today would be the 91th birthday of Beijing Opera master Zhang Junqiu. 91 isn’t a round number, so no big commemorating concert this year, but don’t afraid, last year almost 30 artists gathered in the National Political Consultative Hall in Beijing to celebrate the occasion.

Noted Beijing Opera artists, students, followers and family members of Zhang Junqiu came to show their appreciation, including two of his most well-known disciples, Wang Rongrong and Xue Yaping.

Zhang Junqiu and Wu Lizhen’s son, Zhang Xuehao was also present, together with his new wife Dong Cuinuo, a talented disciple of his father. Another relative appearing on the stage was Zhang Xin, wife of Zhang Xuehao’s younger brother, Zhang Xuejiang. Without a doubt, the Zhang family is a real opera family. -‿-

Another point of interest was the last duo, Mei Baojiu and his brilliant disciple Hu Wenge, who was just featured in a complete opera here.

This group photo comes from the CCTV Forum, you can find more great pictures there:

Zhao Fangyuan, Zhang Qiting, Zhang Leilei, Wu Haoyi, Wang Pan, Jiang Yishan, Wang Runjing, Yang Yongshu, Zhang Ping, Wen Ruhua, Dong Cuinuo (changed dress), Zhang Xuehao, Xue Yaping, Wang Rongrong, Zhao Xiujun, Zhang Xuemin, Zhang Xin, Zhang Liyuan, Zhao Qun, Wang Yige, Wan Xiaohui, Hong Yan, Liu Dong

Concert celebrating Zhang Junqiu’s 90th birthday

Click here to download the video.

Length: 2:48:26 File size: 445MB, 720×432 Extension: MKV
20 September 2010, National Political Consultative Hall, Beijing
Broadcast in CCTV’s Theater in the Air on 27 October 2010.

List of performers:

0:02:45《女起解》Nü Qi Jie (Su San Sent Out Under Guard) – Zhang Qiting  (张其婷)
0:03:34《春秋配》Chun Qiu Pei (Romance of Chunfa and Qiulian) – Liu Dong (刘栋)
0:04:30《秦香莲》Qin Xianglian – Wu Haoyi (吴昊颐)
0:05:40《望江亭》Wangjiang Ting (Riverside Pavilion) – Wang Yige (王奕戈)
0:06:22《诗文会》Shi Wen Hui (Meeting by Poetry) – Zhao Fangyuan (赵芳媛)

0:07:15《状元媒》Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) – Dong Xueping (董雪萍)
0:09:13《楚宫恨》Chu Gong Hen (Sorrow in Chu Palace) – Wan Xiaohui (万晓慧)
0:11:11《坐宫》Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace) – Hong Yan (洪岩), Zhang Leilei (张蕾蕾), Tan Zhengyan (谭正岩)
0:15:10《秋瑾》Qiu Jin – Wang Pan (王盼)
0:20:43《状元媒》Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) –  Zhang Liyuan (张笠媛)
0:26:52《诗文会》Shi Wen Hui (Meeting by Poetry) – Zhao Qun (赵群)
0:30:32《女起解》Nü Qi Jie (Su San Sent Out Under Guard) – Jiang Yishan (姜亦珊)
0:36:35《赵氏孤儿》Zhaoshi Guer (The Zhao Orphan) – Yang Yongshu (杨永树)
Uncle Yang is an amateur actor, inspired by Zhang Junqiu’s art since childhood. He isn’t an official disciple of Mr. Zhang but it’s said there was an outstanding teacher-student relationship between them.

0:41:15《状元媒》Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) – Zhang Xin (张新)
0:49:25《彩楼记》Cai Lou Ji (Tale of the Decorated Chamber) – Wang Runjing (王润菁)
0:55:33《银屏公主》Yinping Gongzhu (Princess Yinping) – Zhang Xuehao (张学浩)
1:03:28《打渔杀家》Da Yu Sha Jia (The Fishermen’s Revenge) – Wen Ruhua (温如华)
1:06:38《楚宫恨》Chu Gong Hen (Sorrow in Chu Palace) – Zhao Xiujun (赵秀君)
1:20:30《刘兰芝》Liu Lanzhi – Dong Cuinuo (董翠娜)

1:28:32《西厢记》Xi Xiang Ji (Romance of the West Chamber) – Zhang Ping (张萍)
1:34:10《望江亭》Wangjiang Ting (Riverside Pavilion) – Zhang Xuemin (张学敏)
1:37:48《苏武牧羊》Su Wu Mu Yang (Su Wu as Shepherd) – Zhu Qiang (朱强)
1:42:37《锁麟囊》Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse) – Chi Xiaoqiu (迟小秋)
1:48:44《周仁献嫂》Zhou Ren Xian Sao (Zhou Ren Offering His Brother’s Wife) – Li Hongtu (李宏图)
1:56:42《捉放曹》Zhuo Fang Cao (Capturing and Releasing Cao Cao) – Du Zhenjie (杜镇杰)
2:02:15《西厢记》Xi Xiang Ji (Romance of the West Chamber) – Wang Rongrong (王蓉蓉)
2:07:20《韩玉娘》Han Yuniang – Zhang Ke (张克)

2:13:44《怜香伴》Lian Xiang Ban (A Gentle Companion) – Xue Yaping (薛亚萍)
2:19:00《铡美案》Zha Mei An (Case of Chen Shimei) – Meng Guanglu (孟广禄)
2:24:08《四郎探母》Silang Tan Mu (Silang Visits his Mother) – Zhao Baoxiu (赵葆秀)
2:27:55《辕门射戟》Yuanmen She Ji (The Magic Arrow Shot) – Ye Shaolan (叶少兰)
2:34:06《横槊赋诗》Heng Shuo Fu Shi (Cao Cao Sings an Ode with Long Lance) – Shang Changrong (尚长荣)
2:37:27《贵妃醉酒》Guifei Zuijiu (The Drunken Concubine) – Mei Baojiu (梅葆玖), Hu Wenge (胡文阁)
2:43:00《忆秦娥·娄山关》 Yi Qin’e·Lou Shan Guan (Remembering Qin’e – Loushan Pass) – Zhang Junqiu (张君秋)
This is an old tune with Mao’s new lyrics.

The little slideshow thing starting at 2:45:53 is featuring a few pictures of Zhang Junqiu I haven’t met online before, for example this colored one from The Orphan of the Zhao Family:

My personal favorites this time were Wu Haoyi, Zhao Qun, Dong Cuinuo and Du Zhenjie.
Fanciest outfit: Wang Yige (Bertrand found an article in English about this girl back in July, which I did not forget just carefully saved up for this post. Thank you Bertrand!)
Best optical illusion shirt: Wen Ruhua
Most original excerpt: Zhang Ke
Performer forcing me to sing-along: Zhu Qiang

I hope you’ll enjoy this video and all the famous arias.
See You next week!

With referral to an external post, I would like to present here a few scenes from a play I liked very much. You can buy a copy here if you’re fond of tasteful innovation. All videos were converted to MP4 with Handbrake, and suffered only minimal deinterlacing loss. Summaries in English were found at .

《宰相刘罗锅》Zaixiang Liu Luoguo (Prime Minister Humpbacked Liu)

Download videos here: [Scene1] [Scene2] [Scene3] [Scene4] [Scene5]
File size: 153MB, 212MB, 94MB, 74MB, 123MB respectively, 708×480

Chapter I — Debut

Emperor Qianlong attempted the daughter of the Sixth Grand Prince to become his concubine. However, the princess hated to be restrained by rules and manners in the royal court. As a master of chess playing, she intended to take the initiative by selecting her husband through chess playing in the chess court. Liu Yong (Hunchback Liu), who arrived in Beijing for the Imperial Examination (The feudal society of china employed the Imperial Examination System to select officials from intellectuals), ran into the chess court and won the game. But then he was driven into a dilemma by Emperor Qianlong, traveling in disguise, who argued for another game. In the Imperial Examination, Courtier He Shen pulled strings behind the scenes so that Liu Yong failed. But He Shen’s conspiracy was exposed by Liu Yong. He Shen tried hard to drive Liu Yong to a dead end. Eventually, when Liu Yong succeeded in passing the exam and was holding the wedding ceremony, Emperor Qianlong and Courtier He Shen showed up without notice. What will be the fate of Liu Yong?

Liu Yong has to face the worst wedding night ever: not only his father-in-law returns twice to talk to his daughter, but the Emperor also shows up. Princess Gege is spending the night with playing chess. At least, Liu Yong gets a funny wedding present in matryoshka boxes.

“Little shoes!” (Chen Shaoyun)

Chapter II — Night Interrogation

Jiangsu provincial governor Ye Guotai committed embezzlement by misreporting the thirty-li (one li is about 500 meters) river embankment as eight hundred-li. When Emperor Qianlong made an inspection tour in southern areas to the Yangtze River, Ye Guotai and He Shen conspired to block the way. Liu Yong, as magistrate of Jiangning, strived to break their plot. Right then, the Emperor caught sight of a beauty Yin Hong, passing by on a boat. Qianlong chased after the beauty to the Qinxin Mansion, ran into conflict with a bully Shi Jinghu there and brought him to death for his vicious behavior. Then Qianlong and He Shen were put into jail accidentally by Zhang Cheng. Ye Guotai meant to play both ends against the middle, dictating Liu Yong to punish severely on the case. Liu Yong had quick wits to hold night interrogation to free Qianlong from jail and to expose the embezzlement by Ye Guotai.

The Emperor falls for the beautiful Yin Hong, and tries to seduce her with sweet words. Later he accidentally kills a village bully, Shi Jinghu in a battle of love, and gets arrested.

Qianlong wears rose-tinted glasses. (Li Yan, Zhang Huifang)

Gege’s father gets drunk and shows us his vocal abilities. The Princess isn’t pleased. Liu Yong returns with the bad news – some serious watersleeves twirling goes on.

“Daddy, please stop singing!” (Ma Zengshou, Dong Yuanyuan)

“What should we do now?” (Chen Shaoyun)

Chapter III — Plum Chanting

In believing that a heavy snow foretells a big harvest, Emperor Qianlong began to intone a poem spontaneously and then got stuck. Liu Yong moved on to consummate the poem. Qianlong agreeably accepted it. He Shen was very jealous of Liu’s talent. Then Liu Yong’s wife, the princess, compiled the poem into Liu Yong’s collection of works by chance. He Shen took advantage of the incident and threw Liu Yong into jail, intending to put him in a fatal position. The Emperor pretended to grant Liu Yong a sword to commit suicide, meaning to cutting down his pride and overconfidence. Liu Yong and the Princess exercised their intelligence to free themselves from the hot water, winning back the emperor’s favor, and putting He Shen in an embarrassing position.

Scene4 and 5
These come with a different cast.

Wang Rongrong plays the Princess.

A hardly recognizable unbearded Zhu Qiang as Emperor Qianlong.

Du Zhenjie as Liu Yong isn’t too happy about the “harakiri sword” he just got.

Contrary, the treacherous He Shen is overjoyed. A surprisingly lean Meng Guanglu without face paint. (Neither jing nor chou performers wear their usual make-up in this play.)

That’s all for today folks, I hope you had fun. ^^

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)
Photo: jingju.net

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.”

Source: CRIEnglish.com

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: Jul 23, 2011)(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)

Shi Yihong


The tropical heat and humidity has followed us all the way home to Quebec City from our vacation in Florida, a rare occurrence, and I find myself writing this post melting in my seat. Tomorrow we are set for rain, and the temperature should drop back down about 10 degrees. Hopefully!

Before leaving on vacation, I found this nice two hour long video while doing hard drive backups with performances from all the top names in Beijing Opera. Fern, who has a terrific blog herself, identified all the artists and songs. It’s great to have Fern helping me out.

You can download the video here. The file format is .RMVB and can be viewed using VLC. File size is 693 MB.

So here is Fern’s cast and song list in italics, with myself adding some odd notes here and there in (regular font):

Zhang Huoding

Zhang Huoding – Jiang Jie (Sister Jiang) (2003)

(There is a video of the complete “Sister Jiang” opera starring Zhang Huoding here).

Shi Yihong

Shi Min (she’s Shi Yihong but here she comes with her former name) – Bawang Bie Ji (Farewell My Concubine) sword dance (2003)

(Shi Yihong is one of the main stars in the spectacular HD opera in three parts “Female Warriors of the Yang Family”.

I found this performance outstanding! Shi Yihong is so convincing in the handling of her swords. Looks so effortless even though there is a lifetime of training involved!

Unless you can read Chinese and know this artist changed her name, there is no way to identify her in the Farewell My Concubine make-up. Bravo Fern!

Also of note here: the nice rolling deep drum.)

Yan Xingpeng

Yan Xingpeng – Liuchu Qishan (Six campaigns from Mount Qi) (1999)
Wikipedia: Zhuge Liang’s Northern Expeditions – In popular history, they overlap with the “six campaigns from Mount Qi” which is inaccurate, since Zhuge Liang only launched his campaigns from Mount Qi twice. Seems Yan Xingpeng is frequently playing Zhuge Liang, 18th here:


(Aha! The TV microphone hidden under the beard is betrayed by a loud plosive.)

Ye Shaolan and Shang Changrong

Ye Shaolan, Shang Changrong – Fei Hu Shan (Flying Tiger Hill) (1999)
You can read the story here.
These two individuals are so good together.

(People not familiar with Beijing Opera should probably not start here, Ye Shaolan’s singing will sound very special to western ears. Question to Fern: is Shang Changrong playing the tiger?)

(update) Fern responded by finding this screen shot of the actual “tiger” in the opera:


Sun Yumin
Sun Yumin – The Tale of Huo Xiaoyu (1999)
Sun Yumin is direct disciple of Xun Huisheng, one of the “4 great dan actor”.
Reference: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huo_Xiaoyu_zhuan

(The story: poet Li Yi 李益 (748 – 829) abandons his lover, the prostitute Huo Xiaoyu, in favour of an honourable marriage. Still madly in love with him, she is unable to greet her clients and falls into misery. She dies in despair in front of him during a banquet. Her ghost then haunts the young man, bringing the curse of jealousy on him. Li Yi’s wife, who comes from a good family, divorces him. His manic jealousy drives him insane and he marries repeatedly, in vain.

This excerpt has a couple of microphone glitches, I’m surprised it was kept by the producers.

Also of note: red is the color of marriage. Notice the intense performance. It’s madness, I tell you!)

Du Zhenjie

Du Zhenjie – Huaihe Ying (Camp at Huai River) (1999)

Sun Wei

Sun Wei (Shanghai Chinese Opera Academy) – Sanjia Dian (Sanjia Inn) (2001)

Xu Ying

Xu Ying (National Chinese Opera Academy) Wenzhao Guan (The Zhao Pass) (2001)

Wan Lin

Wan Lin (Tianjin Chinese Opera Academy) – Silang Tan Mu (Silang Visits his Mother) (2001)

Wang Zi

Wang Zi (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy) – Dingjun Shan (Dingjun Mountain)

Yuan Huiqin

Yuan Huiqin – Yangmen Nü Jiang (Female Generals of the Yang Family) (2001)

Zhang Huoding

Zhang Huoding, Song Xiaochuan – Chun Gui Meng (Dream in a Girl’s Chamber)

(I keep repeating, Zhang Huoding is my favorite Beijing opera performer bar none, the video of this complete opera is here and one of our top picks is another breathtaking excerpt from this opera. I’m such a fan this excerpt alone is excuse enough to post the whole video, although I really have to admit this is not a particularly memorable clip).

Diao Li and Yu Kuizhi

Diao Li, Yu Kuizhi – Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace) (2001)
You can buy a CD of Diao Li here.

(I was fooled for a moment, I thought it was Li Shengsu, right up to the point where her voice cracks noticeably. And no, it wasn’t the microphone. I am shamed.

Yu is Yu. Simply the best at what he does.)

Tan Yuanshou, Tan Xiaoceng, Tan Zhengyan

Tan Yuanshou, Tan Xiaoceng, Tan Zhengyan – Dingjun Shan (Dingjun Mountain)
Tan Fuying’s descendants.

(Nice Chinese mandolin. Trio singing together is definitely not Verdi.)

Marriage material Li Haiyan

Li Shiji, Li Haiyan, Liu Guijuan – Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse) (2001)

(The reference “top pick” video of the complete Unicorn Purse starring Zhang Huoding is here.

This is a typical “three different generations of singers” setup. I like Li Haiyan here — I’m so predictable, sigh. )

Li Haiyan

Li Haiyan, Liu Guijuan – Concubine Meifei (2001)
The Emperor drops Guifei for Meifei on that notorious night in Drunken Concubine.

(Li Haiyan sings here briefly with her characteristic deep rich voice and exquisite control).

judge and old woman

Zhao Baoxiu, Meng Guanglu – Chisang Zhen (Red Mulberry Village) (2001)
Hahaha, we just watched the exact same excerpt a few days ago with my man. He asked, “Why is the old woman beating the judge?” Bao Zheng is the first Beijing opera character he recognizes. Tremendous achievement!

(Tricked again, it took me a second look to make sure that wasn’t Yuan Huiqin. Let’s just blame it on the heat and leave it at that.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on Bao Zheng here; in Chinese fiction, Bao Zheng has become a sort of historical crime detective character).

Li Jie

Li Jie – Tiannü San Hua (Heavenly Goddess Scattering Flowers) (2002)

(It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

I checked Fern’s blog and didn’t find anything on this singer. She hits some nice high notes here.)

jinghu solo

Zhao Jianhua – Chenlian (Morning excercise) (jinghu solo)

(The jinghu solo segues into an acrobatics segment performed by children.)

Mu Yu

Mu Yu (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy, laosheng, 13 yrs) – Huaihe Ying (Camp at Huai River) (2002)
I really liked this boy. His appearance so fits this role. (Edit: Meanwhile the grown up Mu Yu became one of my favorites.)

Lü Yisha

Lü Yisha (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy, female hualian, 11 yrs) – Suo Wu Long (Meeting Death with Ease) (2002)
Wow. A little girl.

Yu Yang

Yu Yang (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy, laosheng, 11 yrs) – Silang Visits His Mother (2002)

Wang Yu

Wang Yu (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy, laosheng, 10 yrs) – Dingjun Shan (Dingjun Mountain) (2002)

Wang Wenduan

Wang Wenduan (Beijing Chinese Opera Academy, female laosheng, 9 yrs) – Yuanmen Zhan Zi (Beheading the Son At the Camp’s Gate) (2002)

Shi Yihong

Shi Min (Shi Yihong) – Xi Shi (2002)

(Perfect time to sip a cup of jasmine tea.)

Zhang Huoding

Zhang Huoding – Da Deng Dian (The Great Enthronement) (2002)

(Collector instinct kicking in. “Must… find… a…video…of…this…complete…opera.” Zhang Huoding in an uncharacteristic role, her voice not in absolutely top form. Still, certainly one of the finest opera singers alive on the planet today.)

Yu Kuizhi

Yu Kuizhi – Zhuo Fang Cao (Capturing and Releasing Cao Cao) (2002)

(This costume looks like a cheap polyester costume shop deal. Why no embroidery? Yu does it honor in any case, he is terrific in the intro, garnering hand claps. He really shines at this kind of slower tempo aria, one can appreciate the reedy quality of his voice… The mind wanders and the body relaxes. Wonderful.)

Dong Yuanyuan

Dong Yuanyuan – Shang Wei (Mu Guiying Guashuai or “Mu Guiying Takes Command)
Dong Yuanyuan is my favourite Mei school actress.

(Fern is up on me, I don’t know this singer very well.)

Li Jun

Li Jun – Sha Qiao Jianbie (Farewell Dinner at Sandy Bridge) (2004)

(Li Jun has failed to hook me in so far. His red cape is hiding the nice embroidery on his costume.)

Deng Muwei

Deng Muwei – Yao Qi (2004)

Song Xiaochuan and Diao Li

Diao Li, Song Xiaochuan – Feng Huan Chao (Return of the Phoenix to the Nest) (2004)
Young Xiaochuan (left), gained some weight since then, hehe:
young Song Xiaochuan

(Song is actually lean and mean in this clip, he’s plumper these days. As they say in Hungarian, “Trr-rrragédia”. )

Geng Qichang

Geng Qichang – Er Tang She Zi (Sacrificing the Second Son) (2004)
Yang, Yu school laosheng, Li Weikang’s husband. One of the most appreciated figures of contemporary Bejing Opera.

That’s all, folks.


(originally published on: Jun 2, 2011)


Once again, here is a collaboration between Fern (who has a superb blog on Beijing Opera herself) and myself to present a very special Beijing Opera video. Fern passed on these files to me and three weeks later when I got around to viewing them, I was bowled over. I immediately asked her if I could post these myself.


What is absolutely wonderful about this production is that it is a real production. It has snappy camera work that demonstrates just how dynamic a Beijing Opera can be, fantastic lighting, elegant sets and frequent great close-ups, all in HD.


I paused this video dozens of times to stare at the helmet decorations and the embroidery of the costumes. I know they’re always there, but to be able to study them at detail is a rare experience. You can get a good idea of what I mean by clicking on any of the screen captures that I took on this post.

The credits list two directors, no doubt each taking care of a separate aspect of the play. This looks like a very well choreographed shoot of a brisk live play, rather than a shot-by-shot studio film with no pacing.

The result is electric! Even if you’ve seen many Beijing Operas before, this will feel all shiny and brand new.

Yuan Huiqin

Fern kindly authored the following synopsis, cast list and composite cast image. Thank you Fern, you’re an unstoppable hurricane!

This production got the China National Radio, Film and Television Award and the Fei Tian Prize in 2004 as outstanding Chinese opera TV play.


Female Warriors of the Yang Family (Yangmen Nü Jiang) is part of the Yang Family Saga, a well-known Song Dynasty (960-1279) narrative story about an influental patriotic family. After the death of the male members of the family, widows and daughters took the heavy responsibility of defending the country.

She Taijun, the 100 year old great-grandmother of the family, who lost her husband and five out of eight sons on the battlefield, is holding a 50 year birthday celebration at Tianbo Mansion for her grandson, Yang Zongbao. (She Taijun is Yang Yanhui’s mother whom he visits in the opera Silang Visits His Mother).

Suddenly, sorrowful news arrive: Yang Zongbao, who was guarding the borders of the country, has died in the battle while fighting the forces of Western Xia. The news shock the royal court. The Song dynasty imperial court wants to ask for peace with the invading Western Xia to prevent further bloodshed.

She Taijun tries to hide her sorrow and speaks against the proponents of peace talks. She orders the whole family, including her widowed daughter-in-law and grand-daughter-in-law Mu Guiying, to go into battle to the front lines.

Her great-grandson, Yang Wenguang, with his mother Mu Guiying’s consent, also requests to set off to war with the family, but his paternal grandmother, Chai Junzhu, disagrees as Wenguang is the only remaining male heir of the Yang clan.

She Taijun suggests that Yang Wenguang compete with his mother in a martial arts contest, with the outcome deciding the debate.

Yang Qiniang, wife of She Taijun’s seventh son, gives advice to Wenguang and he defeats his mother in a spear fight, and is permitted to follow the troops to the border station.

On the battlefield, the king of Western Xia is defeated in a violent skirmish, forcing him to withdraw to his camp. By occupying a natural stronghold, he plans to lure Yang Wenguang into the valley in order to threaten the Yang dynasty itself, but She Taijun and Mu Guiying see through his intrigue.

Horsegroom boy Zhang Biao informs the Yangs that when Yang Zongbao was still alive, he explored the valley and discovered a plank road built on trestles across the cliff, which would allow going around the natural barrier in order to raid the enemy camp with a surprise attack.

To encourage Yang Wenguang, She Taijun gives him the steed named Bailong that previously belonged to Zongbao. The shortcut road is difficult and dangerous, but Mu Guiying, his son and Yang Qiniang follow Zhang Biao’s directions, climbing up the plank road, and finally with the help of the veteran horse and an old man who is collecting herbs in the mountains, they break into the valley and annihilate the enemy.


Shi Yihong

Executive producer: Zhu Tong
Chief Supervisor: Zhang Huashan
Supervising producers: Wang Guohui, Zhang Hua, Fang Jun
Chief consultant: Zhong Chengxiang
Planning: Ho Zhiming, Ma Xuejun
Responsible editor: Xiao Hang
Producer: Guan Jian
Art consultant: Cong Zhaoheng
Directors: Xiao Feng, Bao Erfu
Film producer: Gao Jianmin

She Taijun: Yuan Huiqin
Mu Guiying: Shi Yihong
Yang Qiniang: Tian Bing
Yang Wenguang: Xu Ying
Chai Junzhu: Wang Runjing
Jiao Tinggui: Xu Chao
Meng Huaiyuan: Zhang Chaofan
Kou Zhun: Du Zhenjie
Wang Hui: Xu Mengke
Song Tanzi: Guo Xin
Wang Wen: Shu Tong
Zhang Biao: Zhan Lei
Old man collecting herbs: Yan Zhen

Group image of the performers in order as they appear in this cast list:

Yangmen cast

Some additional profiles for these artists can be found in the following external links:

Yuan Huiqin
Wang Runjing
Xu Mengke
Shi Yihong
Zhan Lei

Some after notes…

It’s interesting to note how a “little boy” role is played here, just as it is played in the “Unicorn Purse” opera: you get a guaranteed, “Wait a minute, I thought that was supposed to be a little girl!” moment.

And another thing, Yuan Huiqin doesn’t look 100 years old!

Yuan Huiqin

On my slower computer, I tweaked VLC to synch the sound just a bit better with the video by going to menu Tools > Track Synchronization > Advance of audio over video and raising it to 0.300 second.

Finally, I really want to say that to me “this is the future of Beijing Opera!” It’s breathtaking, really.


The video files are in .MKV format, and can be played using VLC.

Download part one of the video here (1.5 GB)

Download part two of the video here (1.3 GB)

Download part three of the video here (1.2 GB)