(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)
Zhang Huoding

I’m still re-reading Fern’s really fantastic Qiu Shengrong post from this past week. She put in so more work into it, you’d think she had 7 opera elves working as assistants. As far as I’m concerned, this blog has become more fun than going to Disney World since the “rewamp”! Thank you so much, Fern.

I woke up early this Saturday morning at the beginning of a long weekend. The joke at work is that we are taking a day off to celebrate that we’re all back from vacation. The house is empty, let’s blog!

Here are two complete full-length Beijing Opera productions of Suo Lin Nang (The Unicorn Purse). The first one from 4 years ago stars Zhang Huoding. The second, very recent from only a few months ago, stars Shi Yihong.

This is not the first time I post a complete unicorn starring Zhang Huoding. This new video is a find I finished downloading yesterday. Last week I was doing some searches on the peer-to-peer networks and noticed the file size difference on this Suo Lin Nang, so I gambled some bandwidth hoping to obtain a better quality version of the file I already had. Instead, I came up with an altogether different performance. It’s a jackpot, ladies and gentlemen!

High quality sound and picture, a different venue, good camera work. I am guessing filmed in Hong Kong? And it stars the number one unicorn tamer in China, Zhang Huoding. Some might opine that in the 2004 performance I posted previously she was in better voice, but to me that’s like comparing a 1954 Maria Callas performance to a 1956 Maria Callas performance of the same opera. Let’s face it, if you like Maria Callas, you’ll want both performances. Same difference here.

So, in conclusion, can we spare the disk space to share this repeat performance? Surely you jest!

Click here to download the 2007 Unicorn Purse video starring  Zhang Huoding (955MB, .mkv file format)

As a bonus, here are a couple of very fine photos of Zhang Huoding picked among a slew of gorgeous stills Fern forwarded me this week. (As we discussed earlier, I’m so predictable, I know. I keep telling everyone that it’s a quality rather than a fault.)

Anyway, among the photographs there is a nice collection of Suo Lin Nang action shots from which the nice one below, some backstage photos of the star struggling to get out of make-up (give the poor lady a Perrier and leave her alone for 20 minutes, for gosh sakes!), and a collection of autograph-signing moments, such as the one I added below. You can view these photos in bigger format by clicking on them, as in all my posts. The source of the photos are here and here.

Zhang Huoding in the Unicorn Purse

Zhang Huoding incognito

The second video, downloaded last week — I won a close race with our Budapest team, but only because one of the opera elves slowed down in the back of the pack — is a brand new production featuring our Beijing Opera “It” girl of the year, Shi Yihong. As Fern explains in her post from megapoxy.net here, this role is a bit of a stretch for her. It’s a fine performance with the great virtue of being simply different. It’s not a carbon copy not-quite-there-yet performance. Shi Yihong has her own personality, and keeps surprising her audience and her fans. She is ambitious, very hard working, and she is never boring. I like her a lot. [Fern, we should invite Shi Yihong over for some afternoon tea, what do you think? I could get some chocolate biscuits, you could also invite Jin Xiquan if you like.]

Cast (repeated from here):
Xue Xiangling (薛湘灵): Shi Yihong (史依弘)
Zhao Shouzhen (赵守贞): Yan Haiying (严海鹰)
Zhao Luhan (赵禄寒): Qi Baoyu (齐宝玉)
Xue Liang (薛良): Zhang Jianquan (张鉴泉)
Mei Xiang (梅香): Lü Kunshan (吕昆山)
Lu Tianlin (卢天麟): Bi Xixi (毕玺玺)
Biyu (碧玉): Yu Wei (虞伟)
Mother Hu (胡婆): Jin Xihua (金锡华)

Shi Yihong

A couple of photos of Shi Yihong in this production borrowed from here:

Shi Yihong in the Unicorn Purse

Shi Yihong in the Unicorn Purse

Shi Yihong in the Unicorn Purse

Click here to download the 2011 Unicorn Purse video starring Shi Yihong (1 GB in size, .mkv file format as well)

Both files can be viewed in the VLC player on any computer platform you can think of.

Before I say, “Enjoy!”, I would like to kindly ask you  to please leave a comment on the blog if you have some time, as it motivates us greatly to continue doing this. A pat on the head goes a long way, trust me.