Meng Guanglu 孟广禄

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

(Updated 2013-12-31 to fix broken video link)

Wang Yan

Great thanks to Fern who helped me sort this one out. Fern has her own blog on Chinese Opera which is absolutely splendid, please check it out as well.

This production stars Yang Shaopeng, Wang Rongrong and Meng Guanglu. It is a full-length two hour opera filmed in front of a very enthusiastic crowd in Beijing. Picture and sound quality are superb. Wang Ronrong is in great voice, and Meng Guanglu is even more so! Splendid cast, splendid costumes, the sound mix between instruments and vocals seems better than usual.

Fern found this reference with opera synoses. Here is today’s story, actually three separate stories rolled up into one opera.

For the Safefy of the State (Da Bao Guo) - The crown prince is too young to attend to State affairs when Ming emperor Muzong dies. The dowager Li Yanfei’s father plans to usurp the throne. A high-ranking official Xu Yanzhao and defense minister Yang Bo go to the court to convince the dowager of her father’s conspiracy. The two loyal officials argue with the dowager in court.

Paying Homage at the Royal Mausoleum (Tan Huangling)Ming Emperor Muzong dies in 1573 when his son is too young to hold court, so the Empress Dowager’s father attempts to usurp the throne. Duke Xu Yanzhao, who is loyal to the young emperor, tries to persuade the Empress Dowager not to give up the throne to her father, but she rebuffs him. Xu pays homage at Emperor Muzong’s mausoleum and weeps there. Defense Minister Yang Po finds the duke there and they decide to approach the Empress Dowager a second time in an attempt to save the young emperor.

Entering the Palace for the Second Time (Er Jin Gong) - Li Liang in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), who has usurped the throne after the emperor’s death, orders the palace be blockaded so that the empress dowager is completely cut off from the outside world. By now, the empress dowager has discovered Li Liang’s treachery. She regrets that she has ignored the warnings from two faithful officials, and can do nothing but weep in the palace. The two, Xu Yanzhao and Yang Po, however, manage to enter the palace to persuade the empress dowager to take action. She is moved and realizes that Xu and Yang are loyal to her son, the emperor-to-be. So she entrusts her son to the two officials so that they can help restore the young emperor to the throne.

Da Bao Guo first, Tan Huang Ling starts at 1:03:19 and Er Jin Gong at 1:20:35.

The empress dowager (always dressed in yellow, of course) is Li Yanfei (李艳妃), played by Wang Yan (王艳) and Wang Rongrong (王蓉蓉).
Official Xu Yanzhao (徐彦昭) is played by Wei Jijun (魏积军) and Meng Guanglu (孟广禄).
Defence minister Yang Bo (杨波) is played by Yang Shaopeng (杨少彭), Zhang Kai (张凯) and Ni Maocai (倪茂才).
The antagonist is Li Liang (李良), played by Li Yang (李扬).

The video is an .MKV file viewable with VLC. File size is about 840 MB.

Click here to download the video.

Guanglu Meng


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)

A really big opera. Big size, big history, big story, just the stage set isn’t big, a typical one table – two chairs – one city wall combination.

I feel a little guilty because it’s featuring a single female character, a poor village girl portrayed by a unique huadan actress, Liu Shuyun.
Zhang Ke, a true representative of Yang Baosen’s legacy plays the main protagonist, Lu Song, disciple of Tan Yuanshou is excelling in not one, but two roles, and Meng Guanglu, who doesn’t really need any introduction, portrays the antagonist for a change. Yes, he’s NOT Bao Zheng this time.

The complete opera is very long, spectators nowadays don’t like to sit more than 3 hours in one place, thus it wasn’t performed in full for a long time. The Youth Troupe of Tianjin took up the responsibility to breath new life into the play. This production, with a few minor changes, is a complete edition – kind of a revival for this drama.

Download a small news video about the production.
You can learn how to put on a fake beard.

Wu Zixu, one of Beijing Opera master Yang Baosen’s representative works, consists of the following stories:

(1)《战樊城》Zhan Fancheng (The Battle of Fancheng)
(2)《长亭会》Changting Hui (Meeting in the Long Pavilion)
(3)《文昭关》Wenzhaoguan (The Zhao Pass)
(4)《芦中人》Luzhongren (The Man in the Reeds)
(5)《浣纱河》Huan Sha He (Washing Silk at the River)
(6)《鱼藏剑》Yu Cang Jian (Sword Inside the Fish) (alternate spelling: 《鱼肠剑》”Fish-gut Sword”)
(7)《专诸别母》Zhuan Zhu Bie Mu (Zhuan Zhu Leaves His Mother)
(8)《刺王僚》Ci Wang Liao (Murdering Wang Liao)
(9)《打五将》Da Wu Jiang (Defeating Five Generals)


I wrote the following summary according to the separate scripts of the acts at Fortunately the story, though lengthy, isn’t too complicated. The parts that are omitted or altered in this production are in italics.

(1) During the Warring States period (475-221 BC), Wu She, minister of Chu State is daring enough to directly criticize the king, Ping Wang (Ji Yijiu). His “well wisher”, Fei Wuji isn’t hesitant to frame Wu She, as a result the king orders his execution.
Wu She has two sons residing in Fancheng, Wu Shang and Wu Yun (courtesy name Wu Zixu). Fei Wuji wants to get rid of them too, and forces Wu She to write a letter and ask them to come to the capital. Wu Shang is willing to go, but Wu Yun foresees that they would meet their death, and holds his brother back. Finally they come to an agreement: in order to show filial obedience, Wu Shang goes, but Wu Yun escapes, hoping that he can gather an army and return for revenge.
As suspected, both Wu She and Wu Shang get executed. King Ping sends out an order to arrest Wu Yun, and dispatches Wu Chenghei and his army to capture Wu. Wu Chenghei’s soldiers fail, Wu Yun gets through the city walls and flees to Wu state. (The last part of Zhan Fancheng is left out, namely the actual battle. The next scene after the announcement of King Ping’s order is set in Dong Gaogong’s domain. For the sake of completeness, I clipped this part from another staging with Yang Shaopeng, you can download that too below.)

(2) On the way, Wu Yun meets an old friend, Shen Baoxu and his troop of Chu soldiers. Wu Yun tells him the whole sad story, and Shen Baoxu advises him to settle in Wu. (Since this was a one day performance, this part is left out too, in order to save Zhang Ke from appearing dead tired in the ending scenes.)

(3) Wu Yun arrives to the Zhao Pass, but unfortunately he cannot get through since his “Wanted” posters are already on display. He’s hiding in the home of a hermit, Dong Gaogong for seven days, and due to the constant worrying his hair and beard turn grey.

Have you seen this man?

Dong Gaogong has a friend, Huangfu Ne, who looks exactly like Wu Yun. They exchange clothes and go to the pass. Huangfu Ne arrives first, and immediately gets arrested. He stirs up a great fuss, meanwhile Wu Yun sneaks through the pass. Finally Dong Gaogong testifies that Huangfu Ne is his friend, not Wu Yun, thus he gets released.

(4) The manhunt for Wu Yun continues, and he flees to the riverbank. There’s no ferry, just a fisherman with a small vessel. Wu Yun asks him hurriedly to cross the river. The fisherman recognizes him, helps the worn out hero and accepts nothing in return. Wu Yun comes ashore and leaves, but soon he returns and asks the fisherman not to inform the soldiers about his whereabouts. Seeing that Wu doesn’t trust him, the old man throws himself into the river and dies. Wu Zixu is too late to stop him, he only gazes at the ripples in remorse and finally leaves.

(5) Wu almost reaches the borders of Wu state, but he’s all worn-out and hungry. He sees a silk-washing girl on the riverbank, and has no other option but to beg for food. The girl gives him food what Wu gladly accepts, but he doesn’t want to embarrass the girl who hasn’t met a single male before, and leaves quickly.
(In the original script, the girl figures out from his manner that Wu isn’t a beggar, and asks what happened to him. Wu Yun tells her the story, and unintentionally they start a lengthy chatter. Just like in the case of the fisherman, Wu leaves but returns shortly after, and asks the girl not to inform the soldiers about him. The girl feels that her chastity is ruined anyways after the conversation, and jumps into the river just like the old man.
In this edition, this part is left out. Both audience and critics appreciated the decision. But if you would like to see the original, much more depressing version, I uploaded an additional video of this scene with Sun Huizhu and Zhang Huifang.)

(6) Upon his arrival to Wu state, Wu Yun meets a brave young man, Zhuan Zhu, and they become sworn brothers. Wu has to beg for alms at the market to maintain himself.
One day, prince Ji Guang has an outing, and hears Wu Yun’s reed pipe. He figures out from the tune and Wu’s accent that he’s not an ordinary beggar, and appoints him at the official residence. Ji Guang wants to assassinate his cousin Ji Liao, the current despotic ruler of Wu state, and take the throne for himself. Wu Yun recommends Zhuan Zhu for the task. Their plan is to disguise Zhuan Zhu as chef at the king’s banquet, and hide the murder weapon into the king’s favorite dish, a roast fish.
(Ji Guang’s short sword was unearthed in 1974 and is on display in the Anhui Museum. The actual blade is much longer (54cm) than the prop in the play – that would have been a huge fish. ᵔ.ᵔ)

(7) After getting the task of murdering Ji Liao, Zhuan Zhu returns home and bids farewell to his mother. Seeing that he’s somewhat reluctant to leave, Zhuan Zhu’s mother is preaching to his son for a while, then hangs herself to clear up Zhuan’s misgivings.

(8) According to the plans, Zhuan Zhu disguises himself as caterer and offers a delicious fish dish to Ji Liao at the banquet. Ji Liao knows well that Ji Guang, who’s also invited to the feast, isn’t loyal to him, thus surrounds himself with security guards and wears a protective vest under his garment. But the security check fails to discover the dagger hidden into the fish, and in the right moment, Zhuan Zhu stabs King Liao to death. Unfortunately he can’t escape after the assassination and pays with his life.

(9) In the battle for the kingship, Wu Zixu defeats five generals and Ji Guang ascends the throne as King Helü. End.

京剧《伍子胥》Wu Zixu

Click here to download the video.

Length: 3:06:57 File size: 1,17GB, 720×576 Extension: MKV
Broadcast: CCTV “Theater in the Air” 2011-08-13
Performed: Tianjin China (Zhonghua) Theater 2011-07-02

Additional videos:

The Battle of Fancheng – battle scene (143MB)
2011-08-24, Mei Lanfang Theatre, Beijing
Performers: Yang Shaopeng (杨少彭), Huang Chen (黄臣) and Wang Yuxi (王玉玺).

Washing Silk at the River – tragic version (131MB)
2010-08-27, Chang’an Grand Theater, Beijing
Performers: Sun Huizhu (孙惠珠) female laosheng and Zhang Huifang (张慧芳).

Cast of the main video:

Wu Yun: Zhang Ke (张克)
Ji Liao: Meng Guanglu (孟广禄)
The old fisherman: Shi Xiaoliang (石晓亮)
Girl washing silk: Liu Shuyun (刘淑云)
Dong Gaogong, Ji Guang: Lu Song (卢松)
Wu Shang: Ma Liansheng (马连生)
Zhuan Zhu: Yang Guang (杨光)
Huangfu Ne: Fang Zhigang (房志刚)
Mi Nanshi: Chen Xiqiang (陈玺强)
Fei Wuji: Liu Junjie (刘俊杰)

A few memorable arias:

“一封书信到樊城” from Battle of Fancheng – 0:18:35

Yang Baosen version (mp3)

“鸡鸣犬吠五更天” from The Zhao Pass – 1:04:32

Yang Baosen version (mp3)

“一事无成两鬓斑” from Sword Inside the Fish – 1:54:35

I couldn’t find any recording with Yang Baosen, that seems to be extremely rare, but I decided to upload Yu Kuizhi’s version, who loosely fits into the Yang school.
Yu Kuizhi version (mp3)

As curiosity, I also added the recordings of Beijing Opera master Yu Shuyan (余叔岩) and his present day follower, Wang Peiyu, just to note further differences.
Yu Shuayan version (mp3)
Wang Peiyu version (mp3)

“列国之中干戈厚” from Murdering Wang Liao – 2:50:40

Qiu Shengrong version (mp3)
Fang Rongxiang version (mp3)


During the performance, Zhang Ke changes clothes several times:

Wu Yun as traveler. His beard is still black.

Next morning, his beard is already white.

Wu Yun as refugee.

Wu Yun as beggar.

Wu Yun as advisor.

Wu Yun as general.

I still couldn’t get the hang of Tan-style, but Lu Song surely left an impact on me.

The outfit trick

Innocent maiden with picnic basket

Ji Liao, rubbing his palms: “Hmm, this smells good!”

Black beard, black clothes, black face, black fish: Zhuan Zhu as chef

Have fun opera fans, see you next week!

Sources: Article on the

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)

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: 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”.

(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 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. :D
A 2011 New Year’s video with him, singing excerpt from The Zhao Orphan here.
(Bertrand) Fern’s not the only one to really like An Ping, there are several noticeable roars of approval from the audience during this performer’s aria.

Wang Rongrong

6.状元媒 王蓉蓉 Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) – by Wang Rongrong (who needs no introduction)

Li Jun

7.大唐贵妃 李军 Da Tang Guifei (Imperial Concubine of the Tang Dynasty) -by Li Jun
Li Jun, Yang school laosheng – his civil hairstyle is always leaving me stunned…
Here singing Wujia Po with Shi Yihong:
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

(originally published on: Apr 17, 2011)

Opening procession of "Red Cliff"

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

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

Click here to download the video.

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

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

Red Cliff

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

Grand New Epic Peking Opera: Red Cliff

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

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

Programme Introduction

Producer: Chen Ping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[source:National Centre for the Performing Arts]

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

Enjoy “Red Cliff” and see you next time !

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