Entries tagged with “Beijing Opera acrobatics”.


It was just yesterday that I asked Bertrand to help me out: how should I translate wenxi and wuxi to English? Today I found a Global Times article, which uses the expressions “civilian play” and “fighting play” – how do you like them?

In the article there’s a brief description about both, and triple Plum Blossom Prize winner Pei Yanling (裴艳玲) makes some very good points about martial arts plays.

Click here for the interesting readable: www.globaltimes.cn


Pei Yanling in Wu Song Beats the Tiger

Photo: 一郎时代

Ready for some superhuman acrobatic action? The most spectacular combination of somersaults, flips and splits imaginable? Wudan and wusheng performers who can even sing? Fantastic costumes and props?

I liked this very recent performance so much that I felt the urge to post it immediately. Li Guang surprised the Beijing audience with a quality production again, guiding the recent graduates of NACTA’s fifth class of outstanding Beijing Opera performers throughout the rehearsals and staging of an entertaining, yet hard to perform play.

京剧《八仙过海》Ba Xian Guo Hai (The Eight Immortals Cross the Ocean)

Click here to download the video.

Length: 55:03 File size: 377MB, 480×360 Extension: MP4
2012-04-22, Chang’an Grand Theater

Cast:

Carp Fairy: Feng Yun (冯蕴)
Lü Dongbin (sword): Wang Lu (王璐)
Zhongli Quan (palm-leaf fan): Zhang Yandong (张艳栋)
Tieguai Li (iron crutch, hulu bottle): Bi Jiawang (毕佳旺)
Han Xiang Zi (flute): Zhu Lingyu (朱凌宇)
Lan Caihe (flower basket): Wang Daxing (王大兴)
He Xiangu (lotus leaf): Liu Qi (刘琪)
Cao Guojiu (jade tablet, castanets): Tan Yuan (谈元)
Zhang Guo Lao (fish-drum): Sha Hao (沙浩)

(In the video Zhu Lingyu and Wang Daxing are mixed up. The cast list above is the correct one.)

Too bad that many boys and girls on stage remained uncredited, some faces are familiar from the crustacean army, but I’m not sure.

Summary:

The story isn’t too complicated: a jolly pack of boozy Daoist Immortals meet in the Penglai Pavilion, and decide to have some maritime fun. Each of them uses his special skill to cross the ocean. This article gives a nice description of the items that serve as unique attributes of the Immortals.


Zhongli Quan, Iron-Crutch Li, Cao Guojiu, Elder Zhang Guo, Philosopher Han Xiang

Zhongli Quan tosses his big fan into the sea, lies down on it and the Immortals drift away on the makeshift boat. He Xiangu drops her lotus flower into the water, and suddenly red light appears. One after another, everyone casts an item and they “sail” away to the East.


Actually, I think they like each other…

However, their trip causes disturbance in the palace of the Dragon King, who sends out his army of shrimp soldiers and crab generals. The conflict just gets worse as they talk, a fight starts and the Carp Fairy takes away Lan Caihe’s little basket.


“Wave Goodbye to your property!”

After a long fight, the Carp Fairy gives the basket back when Lü Dongbin asks for it nicely. Hurray!


The last ten minutes are just crazy!

The best part of all posts: pictures!


Teacher Li Guang contributes to the cheerful mood of the rehearsals.


Immortals in training clothes.


Immortals in costume.


Wang Lu as Lü Dongbin.


Fairy Feng.


Wang Daxing with magical flower basket. Be still my beating heart.


Spear-kicking extravaganza – it’s a pity this excellent team made three little mistakes.

Those nasty spears tricked Feng Yun a few times, but all in all, this performance was very likable.
Bravo guys and girls!

Photos are courtesy of 鱼人捷, bluemirage戏剧像素初七在这儿呢.

Repairing the Big Pot is a popular fantasy story that has several versions. It was adapted to Anhui, Sichuan, Henan, Hunan opera, Hubei’s hanju and chuju, Qinqiang and Hebei bangzi – no wonder all versions are a bit different.

We present the jingju edition here, a spectacular martial show staged during the 2011 Charming Spring (魅力春天) festival series in Beijing. In a highlights performance of the invitational wudan contest, Repairing the Big Pot was the closing performance, with the talented and hip actress, Feng Yun in the leading role.

The story isn’t very complicated: Because of a cracked jar, Wang Daniang and her hoard of demons fight a war against the celestial troops of Goddess Guanyin, but suffer defeat.

It’s hard to pick a highlight, but I particularly liked the amazing “flag scene” in the last 6-7 minutes of the performance.

Really nothing much to think about, just relax and enjoy the show!

京剧《锔大缸》or 《锯大缸》Ju Da Gang (Reassembling the Big Pot)

Click here to download the video.

Length: 1:09:14 File size: 401MB, 720×576 Extension: MKV
Mei Lanfang Grand Theater, Beijing 2011-08-25

Cast:

Wang Daniang: Feng Yun (冯蕴)
Tu Di: Liu Chen (刘宸)
Kong Xuan, the Peacock King: Wang Wenbo (王博文)
The roc bird: Zhu Feng (朱峰)
White Parrot: Luo Shuai (罗帅)
Qie Lan: Wang Xueqing (王雪清)
Nezha: Zhang Jin (张琎)
Golden-eyed Panther: Fu Boyang (富博洋)
Percussions: Ma Shuai (马帅), Xia Yang (夏扬), Tong Qingqing (童青青)

Summary:

A drought demon, called Yin Fengzhu incarnates in the region of the Hundreds of Flowers Mountain as Wang Daniang. (In other versions, the place is called Hundreds of Grass Mountain.) Because of her presence, the area experiences severe drought.

When a god wants to eliminate her, the demon takes shelter in a big earthen jar that was used to burn a dead person’s body. The god doesn’t want to get contaminated by the jar and hits it with a thunderbolt. The demon survives, but the pot cracks, and Wang Daniang wants it repaired.

(The play starts here.)
Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy sends out god Tu Di to act as a craftsman. Tu Di disguises himself as a pot repairer, and goes to the Wang farmstead. Wang Daniang gives him the job, but Tu Di deliberately damages the pot beyond repair.

Seeing the big hole in the jar, Daniang sends two goblins to attack Tu Di. They take his repair kit, and the upset Daniang beats him with a giant jiafa (lit. “family law”, questionable household tool to discipline children), but Tu Di manages to escape. The furious Daniang proclaims war.

Guanyin dispatches celestial troops to defeat the demons, and after a long battle, Wang Daniang and her forces are subdued. End.

Bertrand wrote a detailed review on this video, I hope he doesn’t mind that I quoted it here:

Feng Yun is a VERY exciting all-around performer: charismatic, athletic, acrobatic, dedicated and with a sweet distinctive voice on top of it all.

The show opens with a clown carrying two square pails. I once asked my friend Zach why Chinese audiences never seemed to laugh at chou roles. Zach explained that they do, but they try not to disturb other members of the audience. This chou looks very funny to me here, but he is met with stony silence. I guess this must be a very polite audience! But don’t worry, they will lose their cool and become unhinged later.

Feng Yun comes in at 7 minutes or so. She is as photogenic as you can get: good looking and with a non-stop beaming smile. I would describe her voice as high and smoky; not shrill at all. It’s hard not to like Feng Yun and very easy to like her a lot.

Sound is a bit distorted, bad lapel miking that booms from time to time. But there is little singing in this opera, so that is not an issue.

The chou “fixes” the pot. I wouldn’t trust that guy to fix the brakes on my car, let me tell you! Finally, the pot is busted for good at 24 minutes and Feng Yun looks pretty cute trying to be stern.

Then in come the Gods, with very intriguing painted faces and lots of peacock feathers.

Then Feng Yun returns in a costume change, also with peacock feathers, with an uncommon floating grace that just stands out. Trust me, the more Beijing Opera you see, the less you will see of this. At 38:20 she is just holding up a lance almost standing still and makes it look like the most interesting and sexy thing you have ever seen (wish the camera hadn’t cut away just then, no really, I mean it).

A couple of very smooth pirouettes at 39:50, smooth. Nice sword handling routine by the anonymous gods from 42:00 to 44:00. An olympic quality high tumble at 44:50. At 46:47 you can see the sullen customer is sitting on the edge of his seat, he doesn’t want to miss a thing. At 48:08 Feng Yun back kicks a lance like it was a really feminine thing to do. She does it again at 49:23. At 52:57 again. Likely she could kick those lances back while brushing her teeth. 56 minutes is another highlight as she twirls batons. Whew!

Last minute of the show, is she going to risk her neck and do a scary back flip dive from ten feet high and land on her feet? Of course she is!!! I yelled out loud watching this, “Oh!” along with the stunned audience.

Well, they finally had to end it because the percussionists were too exhausted to go on.

This is the longest Feng Yun video I have seen, at an hour long. It is heavy on acrobatics, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen such sustained acrobatics in a Beijing Opera before. But Feng Yun sings well and I have no doubt she could carry a much longer role that focuses more on arias.

The verdict: I’m like the hard-won clapping audience on their feet at the end of this show, waiting for the performers to take their curtain call: much more Feng Yun, please. And make it snappy!

Have a nice weekend drama fans, see you very soon!

Photos: Su Yan’s WeiboQin Zhong’s WeiboLao Dao’s blog

For this weekend I picked a two-in-one opera, thus we can get familiar with two classics in one go.

The script of Panic in Han Palace, fusing the traditional dramas《姚期 》Yao Qi and《打金砖》 Da Jinzhuan (Suicide at the Palace) was written by Zhu Bingxian, disciple of Ma Lianliang. The very first staging with Li Guang, Li Xin and Yuan Guolin was a huge success, and this play is considered original and innovative till present day.

You can download a live recording of this first version here as a wma file.

Li Guang (李光), who was fortunate enough to learn from teachers like Li Shaochun and Gai Jiaotian, gave directions to this particular performance as art advisor. He was guiding Du Zhe during the rehearsals of Wildboar Forest too, now I understand why that turned out so well.
Du Zhe appears as Emperor Guangwu this time, and proves that he choose wisely when he decided to go on with Tan style – fits him! I start to really like this boy.

So let the fun begin, enjoy the classic story with younger generation cast!

京剧《汉宫惊魂》 Han Gong Jinghun (Panic in Han Palace)

Click here to download the video.

Length: 2:39:39 File size: 0.99GB, 768×576 Extension: MKV
Chang’an Grand Theater, 2010-12-03

Cast:

Liu Xiu: Du Zhe (杜喆) (Beijing), Feng Guanbo (冯冠博) (Guizhou)
Yao Qi: Wang Yue (王越) (Shanxi)
Yao Gang: Liu Dake (刘大可) (China National Jingju Company)
Ma Wu: Yang Donghu (杨东虎) (Shanghai)
Lady Guo: Chen Ai (陈嫒) (Tianjin)
Mrs. Yao: Guo Yaoyao (郭瑶瑶) (CNJC)
Deng Yu: Ma Li (马力) (CNJC)
Guo Rong: Liu Kuikui (刘魁魁) (CNJC)

Summary:

Ma Wu arrives to Yao Qi with good news: Liu Xiu (aka. Han Emperor Guangwu) promoted his young son, Yao Gang for his achievements. Yao with wife and son heads to the imperial court.

Liu Xiu is very fond of Yao Qi, he’s a loyal minister and general since the start. The Emperor grants the hot-headed Yao Gang a prestigious title (“ferocious marquis”). Imperial tutor Guo Rong is burning in the fire of jealousy that such a “baby” got this title.

When Yao Gang is parading on horseback in the streets, Guo Rong blocks the gate of the official residence and doesn’t let him through. Yao Gang gets furious and accidentally beats Guo Rong to death. He doesn’t seem to be worried, but Yao Qi is very upset. Guo Rong was not only imperial tutor, but also imperial concubine Guo’s father.

Of course Lady Guo demands the Emperor to behead Yao Gang. Liu Xiu doesn’t order Yao Gang’s execution, but sends him away to a faraway army post to serve a penal sentence.

The notable aria you frequently hear in concerts starts around 1:22. The Emperor remembers the time they spent together with Yao Qi, Yao had three sons, now only one left. When Yao’s auntie hanged herself, Yao Qi cut down the usual three years of mourning to three months, then three days, then three hours, three quarter of hours, three minutes, finally he never wore mourning apparel, in order to be able to defend the Emperor.
No wonder Liu Xiu was reluctant to behead Yao Gang, all along in the play he calls Yao “brother”.


Three days, three hours, three minutes…

Once when Liu Xiu is drunk, Lady Guo with ulterior motive asks him to pardon Yao Gang. The Emperor orders Yao Qi to the palace, so that Yao can ask for the favor.
Guo spills the wine cup that Yao Qi offers, then deliberately drops the cup to the ground and says it was Yao’s insult.
The totally zonked Emperor orders Yao Qi to be executed.

I liked the way Chen Ai portrayed this little vixen, her moves missing all dignity, those shrewd face expressions… I really wanted to punch her in the face.
Yang Donghu’s short horseback scene around 1:47 is also pretty cool.

With a high hand, Lady Guo takes the imperial sword (practically a licence to kill), gives it to Deng Yu and orders him to behead Yao Qi, Ma Wu and two other generals. Deng Yu is concerned about politics, doesn’t want to kill four important pillars of the state, thus he takes a few criminals from the death row to substitute Yao, Ma and the others.

With the four heads in the buckets, Deng Yu goes back to the Emperor and returns the sword. Liu Xiu starts to sober up, and realizes what he has done. He collapses, as if he has lost his soul. In a miserable condition, he visits the  shrine of ancestors at the top of the palace to beg forgiveness. (I wonder who is the ancestor on the painting in the shrine?)


“Where’s my Aspirin? What happened? And where’s the sword of command?”


“Here it is, Your Majesty, Lady Guo gave it to me.” “Goodness Gracious!”

The final scene is the most interesting part of the play. Deng Yu calls back the four generals to explain the truth. They return to the palace at night, but Liu Xiu thinks they are all ghosts, of course he’s scared to death.

Feng Guanbo from 2:27 to 2:30 presents all most common and most spectacular acrobatic skills in 3 minutes. (I would like to write a summary about these some time, I’m currently working on the topic but information is hard to find. Either way, it’s easy to guess which one is called “stiff corpse”. )

It’s not easy to convince Liu Xiu that everyone is fine, but finally we get a happy ending: Yao Gang is ordered home, Yao Qi gets his title back, Concubine Guo is thrown into prison.

I read a bit in Wikipedia about Emperor Guangwu, according to that Empress Guo really lost the Emperors favor for her constant whining, and Guangwu made his childhood sweetheart, Yin Lihua empress. Awww. As far as I noticed, in China and Japan childhood love resulting in marriage is held in high esteem.

A final note: Where on earth is “suicide at the palace” in this play, you might ask. The traditional opera Da Jinzhuan (lit. Hit with the Golden Brick) has a more sinister ending: the angry Ma Wu hits the head of the crazed Emperor with a golden brick. Guangwu climbs up to the top of the shrine and jumps down from there.
Sad end.

Story, sound file: liyuan.xikao.com
Photos: 戏剧像素

You see? I can control myself. I didn’t say “I just love Ma Li.” Ooops… 

A few thoughts in advance

As Bertrand mentioned in the previous post, I had a short trip to France last week, to see a Beijing opera performance on the spot.

Obviously I would have missed it if Bertrand wouldn’t have sent the link to me – somehow I’m miserable in spotting performances in Europe, but slowly I start to figure out where to search. Program schedule of the Shanghai Jingju Troupe includes every performance in China and outside. Program schedule of the Tianjin Jingju Troupe lists only the performances that take place in the theater itself, for others you have to look in the News section, a bit troublesome.

This wasn’t the first time the Jingju Theater of Tianjin, lead by Wang Ping, visited Europe: in 2009 they already had a tour in France. At that time they came with a highlights performance, now in 2011 a full, though shorter edition opera, Female Generals of the Yangs was added to the program.

I think Beijing opera, also Chinese opera in general belongs to the whole world as cultural heritage, and since China’s open policy some efforts are made to introduce this art form to the West. However, I always had a feeling that this introduction is not as throughout as desired, as if they thought we wouldn’t comprehend the more subtle meaning and real glamour of jingju anyways.

That’s just natural that Chinese opera doesn’t have a huge audience and massive fan base in Europe or North America, but I wouldn’t blame it entirely on the lack of interest from the Western part.

Xiaodouzi at xikao.com made a post in his blog earlier, discussing translation issues. He pointed out that while the Japanese attach importance to providing the West with English words they find suitable for  “untranslatable” Japanese expressions, the Chinese just rant and ramble about how ridiculous they find the word “Mandarin duck” for yuanyang or “mung bean milk” for douzhi, but do not suggest a better translation.

He has it right. We are willing to learn, just teach us.

Unfortunately China’s jingju scene is struggling hard to get new audiences even in their own country. I spent lots of time on Weibo lately (“Twitter” of the Sina network), and just ran into a fiery discussion about Wang Peiyu’s popularization methods and Shi Yihong’s unconventional blockbuster Unicorn Purse – both were attacked on account of selling national essence on the marketplace of wealth and fame.

That’s just natural that this kind of talk raises up the question of financial problems.

You surely remember the video Bertrand uploaded about the hardships of managing a jingju theater. While the China National Jingju Company enjoys the full financial support of the government, other theaters and troupes have to balance on the edge of maintaining the standards of traditional Beijing opera and popularizing productions to make profit. (Even the initial giggling at these pictures of chickens turned into a discussion about financial support: Zhang Jianguo’s artistic chicken is sponsored by the government, while the Jingju Theater of Beijing can afford only the B-category prop Zhang Jianfeng is holding.)

And now I finally arrived to the point where I want to join the two threads, namely the “pearls to pigs” phenomenon and the question of financial problems.

Apparently, at least one group of Chinese opera fans doesn’t consider the members of Tianjin’s “Europe Troupe” cultural ambassadors, rather they take pity on them because they have to tour to make a living.
Indeed, troupe members seemed to be tired. They seemed to be homesick. They seemed to be a bit deserted. Zhao Hua is sick of French food.
But I do hope despite all hardships they were aware of their own significance – when can we see Beijing opera in Europe? Once in a year at the most. And we can’t choose what play to watch. Can’t choose which troupe to watch. Can’t pick the lead actors, can’t pick the theater. We even can’t pick the country.
I hope my letter that took days to compose was delivered to Wang Ping – besides some personal flattery it also contained a wholeheartedly written paragraph expressing gratitude to all performers, musicians and crew members.

For me, this performance itself and the aftermaths resulted in a unique, though somewhat sobering experience. It was absolutely worth the effort and expenses I’ve put into it. However, my final conclusion is that if you want to see Beijing opera in its full glory and splendor, with enthusiastic spectators yelling “Hao! Hao”, a trip to mainland China is unavoidable. So don’t get rid of your piggy banks guys.

My actual report back

Good news (at least for myself): planes didn’t crash. The hotel was cheap, semi-comfortable but very tidy. Despite all rumors, public transportation in Paris was not complicated at all. Every literate person can manage with the maps and time schedules provided at the stations, also the crew is willing to help out if you tell them where you wanna go. Of course it won’t hurt if you figure out your route in advance.

The performance in question was The Female Generals of the Yang Family by the Tianjin Jingju Troupe, held in Théâtre Espace Coluche in Plaisir.

My overall impression is that the online communication of this production was somewhat mediocre. Neither the French, nor the Chinese side provided a complete list of tour stations. Most of the French sites failed to clearly indicate exactly what excerpts the acrobatic opera highlights performance consists of. Equinoxe-lagrandescene.com listed them, but without a cast.

Printed material of the French was decent. The program pamphlet listed all troupe members and their awards, but didn’t contain a cast list, namely who played who. The storyline of the opera was explained in French, moreover the whole play had French subtitles. The street poster was very nice.

Plaisir is a suburb of Paris, and the district I had my accommodation in had a strong rural feeling (I saw words like “fermière” on signs and the road I frequently took was called “Route des 2 Plateaux”. I really had to climb two small plateaus. Otherwise, pretty boring little town. This is the most exciting photo I made:

Here are a few pictures of the theater and street advertising:

 

Performance started at 9pm, one hour before was a little make-up show accompanied by live jinghu music which I didn’t really watch because I was too busy figuring out whether I have a chance to meet performers later or not. I couldn’t see anything due to the hoards of French matrons anyways.

Soon I came to the conclusion that if I want to give my letter addressed to Wang Ping to someone, this is the single opportunity, so with an elegant “Excusez-moi!” I placed my elbow between the ribs of an elderly lady and made my way to the Xixia king who already finished with his face paint and sit there in total stupor, staring at a lady who repeatedly asked him something in French. I don’t blame them for being less smiley, if I would be put on display in undergarment for a crowd of middle-aged foreign women, I wouldn’t smile either. “For Wang Ping?”, he asked, took my letter and nodded that he’ll deliver it.
Thus I finished my first mission.

(edit) By the way, I just found this photo, Wang Ping returned to China in November (I don’t know exactly why), and checked out the Shanghai International Art Festival on the 6th –  isn’t that crazy, if he’s flying back and forth, who knows where he is on a certain day?


I give up on tracking down this man…


Mu Guiying and Chai Junzhu

The next one was to make a video. I had a good seat, second row, I could have sit anywhere else by the way, the theater wasn’t full. The compact camera I mentioned in my comment on the previous post is a very decent device, but I haven’t used it before, and had only medium success with the first act, zooming in and out, trying to find a good angle and fixing my skeleton in an effective yet somewhat convenient position. Even though the camera is light-weight, I had trouble to hold it motionless for more than one and a half hour.
Yes, the play was only 1 hour and 40 minutes long. (Actually I might have known that they won’t stage a three hour long full Yangmen Nüjiang as entertainment show.)


Yang girls. I think the pale orange one is a boy.

Stage set was a typical traveling one, if I want to borrow Bertrand’s words, a “bare bones” set, what I didn’t mind at all. The play was divided into ten acts, with curtain after each one. Of course the storyline was custom tailored, I especially missed one of my favorite parts, the martial arts competition, when Yang Wenguang is pleading with his mother: “Ma, Ma, let me win!”


“Bravo!”, said the Emperor.

Costumes were as refined as you might expect from professionals, I especially enjoyed “live” costumes – robes swishing and headdresses clattering, you don’t hear these on TV. Just like during all performances, tassels and pearls that fell on the ground were elegantly kicked out of the stage later, the audience found this greatly amusing.


Yang banner

Personally I like Wang Yan (王艳),  the fresh Plum Blossom winner Mei school qingyi who played the role of Mu Guiying. She’s a very lively actress, with a strong clear voice. Also she has a good sense of humor. I admit that Mei style is stressful for my ears now and then, but never with Wang Yan.

Her husband, the popular Zhao Hua (赵华), disciple of Zhang Xuejin came as the emperor, and Li Hong (李宏) (you  already could meet her here) as She Taijun. Yang Wenguang was Wang Yi (王一) for sure, and I’m pretty sure Bai Xianglong (白相龙) played the king of Western Xia.


Enemy camp: Barbarians! :P

From this particular performance, my favorite character was Zhang Biao, portrayed by the first-class wusheng Si Ming (司鸣). I’m not 100% sure about other members of the cast. I think Cheng Meng (程萌) played Yang Qiniang and Li Shanshan (李珊珊) Chai Junzhu, but I’m not sure, especially about the latter.


“The Uruks turn northeast!” Erm, no, “We are on the Southeast slope!”


Meeting of the two camps

I chose two videos to upload, I hope you’ll like them despite all of the unprofessional camerawork. The first few seconds are blurry and shaky, and the final scene is missing a couple of minutes – unfortunately this camera can record only 23:35 long videos, and I failed to notice that time is running out. The Yang generals capture Wang Wen, and right when they would kill him, the video ends. Sorry for this, but the last part had the most spectacular action and I wanted to share it.
Both were converted to convenient MP4 format and reasonable size with Handbrake.

Click here to download “The Hall of Ancestors” scene

Click here to download “The Last Assault – Victory” scene

According to the program leaflet, members of the Europe troupe are Wang Ping (王平) as general artistic director, Wang Yan (王艳), Li Hong (李宏), Cheng Meng (程萌), Wang Pengfei (王鹏飞), Huang Qifeng (黄齐峰), Wu Peiwen (许佩文), Li Shanshan (李珊珊), Li Feng, Zhang Chanyu (张蝉玉), Hou Peizhi (侯佩志), Rui Zhenqi (芮振起), Si Ming (司鸣), Zhao Hua (赵华), Wang Yi (王一), Bai Xianglong (白相龙), Cheng Honglei (程洪磊), Gao Hang (高航), Han Qing, Han Yansong, Li Xiaoqing, Li Wei, Li Zhen, Liu Xueyong, Liu Yong, Lu Yan (路岩), Qi Jiaqiang, Quan Shouchang, Shao Hailong (邵海龙), Wei Yigang (魏以刚), Xing Tao, Yang Kang, Yang Zaihan, Zhang Yao.

See You later, and I seriously hope the “Travels of Fern” category will have more posts in the future.

And forgive my poor English. (Can we start a sentence with “and” in English? It’s not allowed in Hungarian.)

(edit) I mentioned the theater in Plaisir wasn’t full. Another spectator mentioned the theater in Avignon wasn’t full. But actually, “not full” is relative. This kinda heart-wrenching photo is currently floating around, demonstrating why China’s local operas need support:

Just by coming, spectators of France were showing support.

(originally published on: Jul 24, 2011)(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)

Li Jie

Hello,

Fern of megapoxy.net sent me the links to the story and a very nice video of Li Jie singing from the opera “Lian Jinfeng” (谦锦枫), as well as some biographical background on this actress. Very sweet, Fern, thank you!

Li Jie (李洁) is a “first-class” Mei school actress born in 1972. Starting in 1981, she was taught by famous Mei school artist Chen Zhengwei (陈正薇) at the Jiangsu Theater Academy. After her graduation in 1988, she joined the Jiansu Beijing Opera Theater.

In 1998, the Central Propaganda Department and Ministry of Culture picked her to be sent to The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts for postgraduate studies. There she had veteran teachers like Yang Qiuling 杨秋玲, Li Jinhong 李金鸿, and from 2006 she became the student of noted Beijing opera actress Du Jinfang 杜近芳. Li Jie got Plum Blossom Award in 2001 (along with Li Hongtu, Li Peihong, Dong Yuanyuan, and Geng Qiaoyun).

Fishermen

The story (found here):

At the time of the Empress Wu Tang dynasty, Tang Ao who has failed the civil examination (allowing him to enter the service of the imperial court), meets Lin Zhiyang and Duo Jiugong and they leave for the “The Kingdom of Noblemen”. At the same time, the filial daughter named Lian Jinfeng, a very good swimmer, is looking for sea cucumber in the sea as a remedy for her mother’s illness.

One day, she is trapped with mistake by a couple of fishermen, among them Wu from Qingqiu state, and attached to the head of boat in order to sell her. As soon as he sees this, Tang Ao paid for her ransoms and she went to sea again to get sea cucumbers. She in return finds the Qidu pearl to present him.

This video is a half hour live performance. The first half consists of Li Jie singing and dancing solo, followed by some light acrobatics by clowns representing pearl fishermen. It wraps up with a sword dance. All in all, a very nice production featuring pleasing-looking colors and sets as well as interesting camera work. “The Big Blue” Beijing opera style.

Click here to download the video. File format is .MP4 and can be viewed in VLC. File size is 110 MB.

The video was downloaded and re-assembled from separate sections using Vidown from this link.

Li Jie