Zhang Ke 张克


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

Lü Yang

Hello,

This is a collaborative post between Bertrand and Fern, whose help was invaluable to get the facts straight. I also have to thank Géza again for forwarding me this video a couple of months ago via USB stick in the regular mail. I only got around to watching a couple of weekends ago and was bowled by the terrific performances. I emailed Géza to express my great enthusiasm for it and he replied, “Yes, the performance is superb. It is my all time favorite performance.

According to the encyclopedia Fern, the cast for this show is Lü Yang, Wang Peiyu, Zhang Ke (I thought it was An Ping!), Wang Yan, Ma Jie, Li Hong, and Wei Yigang. It was filmed in 2000 at the Tianjin Binhu Theatre in Shanghai (武家坡+算军粮+银空山+大登殿).

The basic story of Wujia Po, or the Wujia Slope, is simple. Like Ulysses in the Odyssey, a husband (named Pinggui) who has been away for 18 years returns to find his wife (Baochuan) after making good. He finds her living humbly near a cave, unchanged. She does not recognise him and escapes into the cave. The husband decides to test her love by tempting her with silver and sweet promises to accompany him and leave on horseback. She firmly resists his many advances. Finally, he reveals his true identity and they are reunited.

Wujia Slope is part however of a larger epic, 《红鬃烈马》Hongzong Liema, (the red-maned fiery horse), which consists of numerous episodes. Fern has gathered synopses for each of the episodes here.

In the video presented here today, the husband and wife story takes up the first hour of the opera. It is a pretty bare bones Cheng school play with a simple costume for the female lead, few props and only two characters on stage.Everything depends on the delivery, a demanding task. I’ve posted a video of this before, performed by my favorite singer, Zhang Huoding, here.

After the first hour, there is an abrupt segue and the husband Pinggui  and wife Baochuan have returned to the imperial court. This story shift was a bit hard to figure out. Fern had to lay it all out for me.

First comes the the “stock-taking” scene which is rarely staged. Repeating from Fern’s storyline post:

《算军粮》Suan Jun Liang (Stock-taking the Army Provisions) - At Wang Yun’s birthday celebration, a fierce argument is going on between Wei Hu and Xue Pinggui, regarding the provisions of the last 18 years. After the death of the Tang emperor, Wang Yun seizes the throne and sends troops to capture Xue Pinggui.

(in the picture below,Wei Hu and Pinggui argue):

actors Zhang Ke and Wang Peiyu

Following is the 《银空山》Yinkong Shan (Silver Sky Mountain) scene with Wang Yan as Princess Daizhan.  Eventually, with the help of Princess Daizhan, Pinggui (just like Ulysses), will wrest back the throne from usurpers. At the end of which the two losers are arrested by the foreigner furry soldiers of Daizhan and the emperor’s seal is taken back (symbolised by a brick covered in a yellow scarf).

heavies are busted

Finally, the scene 《大登殿》Da Deng Dian (The Great Enthronement) closes the opera – Pinggui takes the throne and makes Baochuan Empress. He orders the execution of Wang Yun, but Wang Baochuan begs him to spare the life of her father. Pinggui gives in, and he even allows Mrs. Wang to live in the palace (everyone: peace and love, no hard feelings).

I posted a video of Zhang Huoding performing Da Deng Dian before here. That video begins with the arrest pictured above.

Zhang Huoding’s performances in the Wujia Slope scene often seems to my eyes to have become “the blueprint that must be followed” by younger Cheng school performers such as Lü Yang, Guo Wei and especially (just being a bit stern despite the fact she is my new crush) Zhao Huan. Fortunately, I am happy to say, in this video Lü Yang gives a very fresh performance, quite her own, playful and downright catty at times. Simply, her singing is the best I have heard her and her moves are the best I have seen her. She is so good during the five minutes that start at 10:45 that she is the only one startled when the audience member yells his approval at her exquisite gestures, and she cracks a thankful smile at 15:29 that is not in the script.

Wang Peiyu, another actress, plays the husband. This is perhaps not her most memorable role, but boy does she shine! Tremendous singing! It is clear that Lü Yang and Wang Peiyu clicked during this production.

The files Géza sent me were simply too big to post in .VOB format, so I used Daniusoft’s DVD ripper to reduce them to a format more adapted to the web. The source audio is not very loud and it has an audible hum, so to watch the video I recommend you do the same as I: in VLC, use the built-in pre-amplifier and graphic equaliser by going menu Tools > Effects and Filters > Audio Effects tab

My audio correction looked like this, but you might tweak to your own taste:

Click here to download Part 1 of the video

(mp4 format, file size 920 MB)

Click here to download Part 2 of the video

(mp4 format, file size 843 MB)

 

Enjoy!

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?

Downloads:

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 scripts.xikao.com. 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)

Pictures!

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 performancescripts.xikao.com
Photos: bbs.cntv.cnforum.enorth.com.cn

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!

(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:
http://bbs.cntv.cn/thread-14651922-1-1.html
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. ]

percussionist

[ 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)

trio

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.

Enjoy!


(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 megapoxy.net, 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:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hR8sUzSbYs
Excerpt from Ji Gu Ma Cao (Beating the Drum to Abuse Cao Cao):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHfu7s6B-wg
Chen Shaoyun, An Ping and Li Jun all play a role in this opera:
http://megapoxy.net/wordpress/?p=1113

(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:
http://operabeijing.com/?p=597 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.
http://megapoxy.net/wordpress/?p=2640

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:
http://a0.att.hudong.com/10/65/01300000222260121952651003416.jpg

(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:
http://baike.baidu.com/image/8bc3a7018d5ade59728da502 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)

3 Comments »

  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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7n2rtHvckAComment by Bertrand — July 26, 2011 @ 8:38 am

(originally published on: Aug 11, 2010)

Here is “Visiting Royal Mausoleum, Re-entering the Palace“, a full length opera.

Performed on the Air Theatre by SONG Haoyu, MENG Guanglu, WANG Rongrong, ZHANG Ke, YANG Chi.

Instrumental lead

The story:

The Mu Emperor of Ming Dynasty passed away, leaving a young prince. The Concubine LI held court for her son. Her father LI Liang reported that the princes of China’s vassal states refused to pay tribute to China when they knew that China was under the control of a young lad. LI Liang said he was afraid that the peace could be broken. He suggested that he would help the new emperor take care of state affairs for a few years and then return power to the emperor when he grows up.

XU Yanzhao, the Duke of Dingguo (Dingguo means Securing State), and YANG Bo, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of War, put all their efforts into persuading the Concubine LI not to follow her father’s plan. Ignoring the advice of the loyal official and the excellent general, the Concubine LI drove them out of the royal palace and deprived their power of court administration.

In order to take a full control of the royal court, LI Liang deprived his daughter, the Concubine LI, of all powers. Then he locked the Concubine LI in the Palace of Zhaoyang [Zhaoyang means Manifesting Sun].)

With concerns about state affairs, XU Yanzhao cried in front of the Mu Emperor’s mausoleum in midnight. YANG Bo led his private armies to meet with XU Yanzhao at the royal mausoleum. Knowing that LI Liang had already blocked the Palace of Zhaoyang, XU Yanzhao and YANG Bo decided to re-enter the palace.

Alone in exile, the Concubine LI was remorseful after she was confined. XU Yanzhao and YANG Bo re-entered the palace and offered their advice to the Concubine LI. Mrs. LI understood them at last and entrusted the young emperor to their care. They would protect the royal power of the Ming Dynasty.

The file format is .RMVB and can be viewed using VLC.

Click here to download Part One of the video

File size of Part 1 is 315 MB.

Click here to download Part Two of the video  

File size of Part 2 is 283 MB.

LI Liang wants to control the throne