Entries tagged with “Li Jie”.


We celebrated Halloween with Li Baochun, let’s do it on Valentine’s Day too!

The video in question is a volume of the “Preserving the Essence of China’s Beijing Opera” (中国京剧音配像精粹) series, what we here at operabeijing.com colloquially call “lipsynched” series. The already introduced delicate actress, Li Jie plays the role of Lady White Snake, the archive sound recording is of Du Jinfang, Mei Lanfang’s brilliant disciple. And who else would be more fitting to borrow his appearance to Li Shaochun than his son, Li Baochun? He looks pretty much the same, just Li Shaochun was more handsome. 

The gigantic DVD set of this series (with 557 tracks) is sold out everywhere, hardcore drama fanatics may find it or the 177 pieces VCD set second-hand at taobao.com.


VCD collection

Bertrand posted a full Unicorn Purse from this series before, and characterized it as “a fascinating if not necessarily essential document”. I think these few words summarize nicely the purpose and aim of these recordings: they make it easier to appreciate masters of the past. It’s just human nature I guess, we can concentrate easier for a couple of hours if we not only hear, but also see the story.

Unfortunately jingju is considered an endangered genre even in China, not to speak of China’s local operas. Artists and institutions do their best to preserve and enhance national essence, but I think only time will decide which approach will bear more fruit.
Many artists work very hard to popularize jingju through all media available and reach younger audiences, and some of them probably won’t go down in history for achieving exceptional artistic heights, but for being successful in turning many uninterested people into Beijing Opera fans.

At least one part of that new audience will develop true interest in jingju and start to differentiate between “popular” and “quintessential”, and their needs also must be fulfilled. Without high quality education and attaching special importance to the inheritance of China’s jingju schools, the genre could get diluted to the niveau of New Year’s shows, and what would be the use of skyrocketed ticket sales if the essence is lost?

On the other hand, what’s the use of maintaining traditions if there are only a handful of old-fashioned people left who are interested?

Let’s say with lots of work you gain a large number of new audiences, but instead cultivating them, you continuously put emphasis only on gaining more and more new spectators. What will you get? Most likely a large quantity of “fans” with shallow interest, and sooner or later they will leave. You have to keep and culture these people.

Hard to balance these things out, to sacrifice some talent on the altar of popularization, dispatch performers with shiny performances, and withdraw some talent from the stage for the sake of education. Stage needs quality performers, performers need quality teachers. Shortage on both fronts. The most sought-after teachers are so heavily engaged that sometimes even the most promising students have to turn for advice to other senior performers, who might not have specialized knowledge about that particular subject or play.

It’s important to experiment with new ideas, or to renew the outdated, however, without embracing tradition, it’s impossible to innovate in acceptable manner. A few weeks ago I found an excellent blog article about Qi school from 2009, written in superb English, and one paragraph quoted Qi school artist Xiao Runzeng (肖润增):

Xiao points out, however, that disciples of a school are not simply slavish imitators of the founder’s style. “At the beginning of your training you are expected to copy the master’s style closely. But after you’ve mastered the fundamentals and firmly grasped the spirit of the school, you are expected to further develop your art in accordance with your own unique strengths and characteristics.”

That’s why old records are important: to grasp the spirit of that particular style. “Mastering the fundamentals” is the key to exciting and tasteful new productions – without proper foundation, one might end up with some mediocre claptrap.

Sorry for the tirade. Of course this is my private opinion, feel free to disagree. I just wanted to explain why I think it’s important to pass on these kind of videos. I hope frequent visitors know that I’m not as straight-laced as I sound, and won’t turn this awesome site into a mausoleum by posting only old, scratchy recordings.

Here are a few tomatoes to throw at Fern, then finally let’s move on to our actual video: 

Two things are particularly interesting about this performance: Li Shaochun’s Xu Xian isn’t xiaosheng role – in this version the handsome scholar sings in normal voice.
Moreover, the ending scene is more clean-cut than the ones I’ve seen before.

Bertrand, our White Snake expert already posted several versions of this classic story with Zhang Huoding. In those, the ending is as subtle and delicate as Miss Huoding is. (I know she’s not a Miss but I refuse to say Mme Li.)
When the disgusting Monk Fahai captures White Snake with the copper jar, she entrusts the baby to her husband, who escorts the child to his family.
In the final scene, “The Collapsing Pagoda”, thunderbolt destroys the tower, the lovers meet again, but what happened to the little boy?

In other stagings I’ve seen, the fierce Xiaoqing breaks down Leifeng Pagoda with her soldiers, but the fate of Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian’s son still remains unclear.

In this “lipsynched” version, Xiaoqing destroys the tower and frees her imprisoned sister. Xu Xian is there, ten-something years went by so he already has a beard. The son is also grown up, the play ends with a happy reunion and this lovely family portrait:

The internet isn’t flooded with this particular recording, last time CCTV aired this movie in 2009. I checked the copies available, and found that CCTV’s 7-part version is the most tolerable. Since the launch of cntv.cn, the site got revamped and the video main pages were tailored, but the archives are still there, with some Google-ing you can download old programs through the “backdoor”.

The videos went through a little face-lifting with eRightSoft’s SUPER, then converted to reasonable size with Handbrake – I don’t say it’s HD, nor is the sound 5-channel Dolby Pro Logic, but I still think it’s a treasure.

京剧音配像《白蛇传》”Lipsynched” jingju Bai She Zhuan (Tale of the White Snake)

Click here to download the rar file.

Length: 1:57:44 total File size: 835MB total, 480×360 Extension: MP4


Black Bear attacks!


“I got the mushroom!”


Boo!!!


Hurray!

I hope you will enjoy this classic love story on Valentine’s Day. See you next week!
Oh, and don’t forget to read the whole Xiao Runzeng article!

(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

(originally published on: May 7, 2011)(Updated 2013-04-23 to fix broken links)

Hello!

Today I am presenting a 2 1/2 hour concert featuring several exciting female singers from China, all performing Chinese opera arias. The concert concludes with Li Shengsu, the foremost performer of the genre.

This file is in .AVI format, of 922MB in size, and can be played using VLC.

I’m really excited about this one, but it took quite a long time for me to post this because I needed help in identifying the performers. The following notes were kindly prepared by Fern who has a terrific blog on Peking Opera in English of her own and which I check daily.

All kinds of flowers are fragrant

Li Guojing Li Guojing (李国静) – On the Dock (海港)
Shanghai Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, mainly Mei school, also Shang school

 

Lü Huimin

Lü Huimin (吕慧敏) – Selling Water (卖水), Peach Blossom Village (桃花村)
China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class huadan, Xun school


Zhang Yanling

Zhang Yanling (张艳玲) – Princess of Shuangyang (双阳公主), Han Ming Fei (汉明妃)
Tianjin Beijing Opera Theater, first class qingyi and daomadan, Shang school

 

Liu Guijuan

Liu Guijuan (刘桂娟) – Chen Sanliang (陈三两), The Great Enthronement (大登殿)
Tianjin Youth Beijing Opera Troupe, first class qingyi, Cheng school

 

Zhang Huifang

Zhang Huifang (张慧芳) – 2 excerpts from Xie Yaohuan (谢瑶环)
Hubei Beijing Opera Theater, first class qingyi, huashan, Zhang school

 

Zhang Ping

Zhang Ping (张萍) – Qiu Jin (秋瑾), Hong Yun Gang (modern opera) (红云岗)
Beijing Military Region Comrades-in-Arms Cultural Troupe, first class dan, Zhang
school

 

Zhao Xiujun

Zhao Xiujun (赵秀君) – Number One Scholar as Matchmaker (状元媒), 2 excerpts from Romance of the West Chamber (西厢记)
Tianjin Youth Beijing Opera Troupe, first class qingyi, Zhang school

 

Liu Wei

Liu Wei (刘薇) – Romance of Chunfa and Qiulian (春秋配), Su San Sent Out Under Guard
(苏三起解)
Head of Wuhan Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, Huang school (founded by
Huang Guiqiu)

 

Deng Min

Deng Min (邓敏) – Turandot (图兰朵), Female Generals of the Yang Family (杨门女将)
China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class dan, Mei school

 

Li Haiyan

Li Haiyan (李海燕) – Zhu Yingtai Resists Marriage (英台抗婚), The Unicorn Purse (锁麟囊)
Head of China National Peking Opera Company 2nd Troupe, first class qingyi,
Cheng school

 

Li Jie

Li Jie (李洁) – Tale of the White Snake (白蛇传)
Jiangsu Beijing Opera Theater, first class dan, Mei school

 

Chi Xiaoqiu

Chi Xiaoqiu (迟小秋) – The Unicorn Purse (锁麟囊), Su San Sent Out Under Guard (苏三起解),
The Unicorn Purse again
Beijing Peking Opera Theater, head of Beijing Peking Opera Theater Youth Troupe,
first class qingyi, Cheng school

 

Li Shengsu

Li Shengsu (李胜素) – The Unofficial Biography of Taizhen (太真外传), Mu Guiying Takes
Command (穆桂英挂帅), Remorse at Death (生死恨)
Head of China National Peking Opera Company 1st Troupe, first class qingyi,
huashan, Mei school

I hope I haven’t skipped anyone.

 

Thank you very much, Fern! Now for my own observations

It is apparent that out of make-up, some of these performers clearly struggle hard to hit their notes. Beijing Opera is not easy to sing.

I admit I am more partial to female singers (update note: that’s an understatement), so picking a favourite among these performances is like asking a 7 year old what is the best chocolate in a candy store!

I will say that although she was possibly the least photogenic, and did not gesture much, I was most impressed with the POWERFUL voice of Li Haiyan. By the screen shots above you can see the same microphone was used for all the performers and they were all standing at the same distance from it. However Li Haiyan’s voice is the only section in the concert where the microphone buzzes for ten minutes: her voice is too loud! She is a sort of hybrid, a bit of coloratura soprano with a deep voice that carries far, along with great Beijing Opera throat control. This made her a stand out, in my opinion. I don’t know anything else about her.

Deng Min was the most interesting to look at, obviously a very skilled actress. She much be superb in make-up and costume.

Best dressed was Liu Wei.

Zhao Xiujun is a ringer for Julia Pine, former guitarist of Ottawa punk band Last Prayer. Hi, Julia!

Li Shengsu is not allowed to leave after two tunes, and is chased back on stage to do one more number than the other performers.

The lighting is not optimal in this concert. Nor is the color in the video I think, I played with the video hue and saturation in VLC to get a picture I liked.

The video can be downloaded here.

Enjoy the “Flowers Fragrant” and see you next time !

(update note: here is the original comment for this post)

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks a lot for this concert!I also don’t know much about Li Haiyan, but she’s assigned to the same position (just in 2nd Troupe)as Li Shengsu, I bet the National Peking Opera Company is careful in picking its leaders.I think you hit the nail on its head with the words “most interesting” about Deng Min – previously she learned wusheng and knows two plays with massive splits and leg-over-the-head ligament hurting moves, too bad I never seen her doing those!
    And now she comes up with Turandot. Truly interesting. :)

    Comment by Fern — May 8, 2011 @ 12:00 am |Edit This