Theater in the Air – Shanghai Art Festival 2013
Broadcast live every night October 1-7 19:20 (China time) on CCTV11. For a change, there will be Beijing Opera and Shaoxing Opera as well.
Event’s page: http://xiqu.cntv.cn/special/2013shanghaixing/01/index.shtml
10月1日（星期二）19:20 现场直播 京剧《凤还巢》
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131001 京剧《凤还巢》 1/2
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131001 京剧《凤还巢》 2/2
Beijing Opera《凤还巢》Feng Huan Chao (Return of the Phoenix to the Nest) – Comedy of errors for dan role enthusiasts.
Cast: Dong Yuanyuan, Sun Zhengyang, Xiao Runnian, Luo Changde, Zhang Ke, Jin Xiquan
A very thin Xiquan, and costume extravaganza:
Which one would you pick? However, ugly sister, played by Sun Zhengyang, is pretty cute in his own way. :)
Beijing Opera Laosheng Highlights:
1.《未央宫》Weiyanggong (Weiyang Palace) – Guo Yi, Tian Hui, Yu Hui
I’ve never seen this Qi school play, it’s the end of Han Xin’s story, when Xiao He lures him to Weiyang Palace where he meets his death. Tian Hui as the antipathetic Empress Lü.
Random fact: Weiyang Palace is big.
2.《应天球》Ying Tian Qiu, it is said it’s alternative title for《除三害》Chu San Hai (Eliminating Three Evils) – Chen Shengjie, Wang Jiaqing
3.《太白醉写》Tai Bei Zui Xie (Li Bai Writes Drunken) – Lan Tian
Here’s a good description of the story (from the Canto Opera collection of Canadian Museum of Civilization):
Li Bai, also called Li Tai Bai, was a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), who lived a romantic life. He wrote more than 900 poems, which remain popular among ordinary Chinese people to this day. His poems are an artistic portrayal of reality as well as his own spiritual life during the glorious age of the Tang Dynasty. He frankly expresses his expectation of achieving academic honours, as well as his anxiety regarding the Emperor’s tolerance of corrupt ministers.
Li Tai Bai is deprived of his position as a successful candidate in the imperial civil service examination because he has no money to bribe the two men in charge of the exam: Prime Minister Yang Guozhong, the country’s de facto ruler, and the eunuch Gao Lishi. The poet’s name, however, is already popular among scholars and officials of the time. As an outstanding artist himself, the Emperor enjoys reading Li Tai Bai’s poems, and appoints the poet an Academician Bachelor at the imperial court. This is a position with no real function except accompanying the Emperor and his concubines to certain social activities. Li Tai Bai dislikes the palace power struggles, and once loudly proclaims that he is not happy to serve and observe officials who are so corrupt, yet so powerful. These officials — including Prime Minister Yang Guozhong — see the poet, of course, as a thorn in their side.
One day, the ruler of a southeastern kingdom sends a messenger to the Tang capital. The messenger presents his credentials to the court in his local language, which none of the officials can understand. The Emperor feels he has lost face, and that the Tang Dynasty has been shamed. Li Tai Bai, who has been drinking with friends at a small inn, is summoned to the palace. He reads the letter without a single mistake, dumbfounding the envoy. When Li Tai Bai is asked to write a reply, he demands that Prime Minister Yang Guozhong prepare the paper for the letter, and that the eunuch Gao Lishi clean his boots as he writes.
4.《沙桥饯别》Sha Qiao Jianbie (Farewell Dinner at Sandy Bridge) – Wang Peiyu, Jin Xiquan
Beijing Opera Dan Role Highlights:
1.《宇宙锋》Yuzhou Feng (The Cosmic Blade) – Tian Hui, Ren Guangping, Li Chun, Bi Xixi
Tian Hui knows this play pretty well. I found a good description of the story, focusing on the scene that can be seen in this video, 修本 Xiu Ben, I also recommend the whole article, Learning Yuzhou Feng written by Rose Jang:
The play is set in the Qin dynasty (221–206 B.C.), when the lascivious successor of the First Emperor, the Second Emperor (Qin Ershi 秦二世), presides over a divided court. His prime minister, Zhao Gao 赵高, is a scheming politician.12 In an attempt to neutralize one of the people in the way of his consolidation of power, Kuang Hong 匡洪, Zhao marries his daughter, Zhao Yanrong 赵艳容, to Kuang’s son. The young couple turns out to be a good match, but the union does not achieve Zhao Gao’s purpose and he employs a more vicious plot to neutralize Kuang Hong. As a mark of imperial favor, the Kuangs had been given the precious sword after which the play is named. Zhao Gao frames the Kuangs for treason by having the sword stolen and used in a purposely unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the emperor. The sword is taken as evidence of the Kuangs’ complicity and the entire clan is ordered to be executed. There is only one survivor, Zhao Yanrong’s husband, who manages to escape by disguising himself as one of the servants. The real servant dies in his stead.
It is at this point of the story that the scene “Xiuben” occurs. At the beginning of the scene, in his quarters, Zhao Gao announces the success of his plot, but also mentions a rumor he has heard that states that Zhao Yanrong called a servant her husband. He summons his daughter, who has moved back home, to ask her about the rumor, and she appears with her faithful mute maid (known in the play only as Yanu 哑奴 [„mute slave”]). Although initially frightened by the accusation, Yanrong manages to dissolve Zhao Gao’s suspicion by claiming that it would be absolutely absurd for her to call a mere servant “husband.” She then persuades Zhao Gao to exercise magnanimity and compose a memorial to the emperor requesting a pardon for the Kuang clan. While Zhao Gao is drafting this memorial, much to Yanrong’s joy and relief, they are both alarmed by a surprise visit by the Second Emperor, who is returning from an excursion. Yanrong quickly hides herself, but not before the Second Emperor catches a glimpse of her beauty and instantly takes a fancy to her. After reading Zhao Gao’s memorial, the Second Emperor immediately approves it. Then he orders Zhao Gao to present his beautiful daughter at the court the following day—he wants to make her one of his concubines.
After the Second Emperor leaves, Zhao Gao announces to his daughter the good news about the memorial and her upcoming presentation at court. Upon hearing of the latter, she directly accuses him of lacking shame and only craving honors and riches. She claims that while she was bound to follow her father’s wishes in the case of her first marriage, that is no longer true with any subsequent marriages, but an angry Zhao Gao accuses her of rejecting the authority of both father and emperor. Trapped inside this patriarchal web of tyranny, Yanrong’s only and last hope comes from her faithful mute maid, who is as full of wisdom as she is short of voice. The maid pulls Zhao Yanrong aside and gestures to her to put on a show of insanity. Inspired by the suggestion, Yanrong exits the stage and returns with robe and hairdo in disorder, and scratches blood marks on her forehead in front of the audience. To complement this visual portrait of madness, she treats her father as if he were her lover, spewing lewd and crazy phrases and making seductive gestures, all the while following the hints from the mute maid. Her feigned madness is taken for real by her father, who despondently sends her back to her room. Yet a more severe battle awaits her the following morning at court, in front of the Emperor and his heavily armed entourage. Yanrong’s unflinching confrontation with the Emperor, in which she uses the disguise of insanity to curse him to his face, is the content of the ensuing scene, “Jindian.”
2.《穆柯寨》Mukezhai (Muke Fortress) – Gao Hongmei
This isn’t the first time either Gao Hongmei stars in this action-packed play. The story is simple: Mu Guiying beats them all.
Mu Guiying practiced martial arts from a young age after her bandit father Mu Yu (穆羽) who ruled the Muke Fortress (穆柯寨). One day Yang Zongbao, the youngest warrior of the illustrious Yang clan, came to the fortress demanding the Dragon-Taming Wood (降龍木) on the order of his father, Marshall Yang Yanzhao. Mu refused so they fought in a duel which resulted in Yang Zongbao being captured. While Yang Zongbao refused to surrender and demanded death, Mu found herself attracted to her prisoner and boldly made a marriage proposal, which Yang Zongbao eventually accepted. After Yang Zongbao returned and reported the events, an infuriated Yang Yanzhao ordered the disgraced son executed. To save Yang Zongbao, Mu came out of the fortress and engaged in a battle with Yang Yanzhao, also capturing him. Mu apologized to her father-in-law and finally Yang Yanzhao agreed to the marriage and welcomed Mu to his family and troops.
3.《状元媒》Zhuangyuan Mei (Top Scholar as Matchmaker) – Jiang Yishan, Jin Xiquan
Well, this evening’s performance isn’t the show of surprises: audience favorite from Jiang Yishan’s regular repertoire.
What a busy week for Jin Xiquan. Three performances in a row in Shanghai, then he suddenly had to fly to Beijing to substitute Li Hongtu on the 5th in Under the Shade of the Willow, and on the 6th, he was in Shanghai again, performing Chun Gui Meng with Li Peihong.
4.《坐宫》Zuo Gong (Sitting in the Palace) – Li Jie, Li Jun
越剧《新狮吼记·跪池》 表演： 谢群英、陈雪萍
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131004 越剧中生代演员折子戏专场 1/2
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131004 越剧中生代演员折子戏专场 2/2
Shaoxing Opera Senior Performers Highlights
10月5日（星期六）19:20 现场直播 明星版越剧《孟丽君》
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131005 越剧《孟丽君》 1/2
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131005 越剧《孟丽君》 2/2
Shaoxing Opera《孟丽君》Meng Lijun
Cast: Yangping Shan, Zhang Ruihong, Qian Huili, Zhang Hailing, Zhang Yongmei and many more
10月6日（星期日）19：20 现场直播 京剧《击鼓骂曹》、《春闺梦》
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131006 2013上海行 京剧《击鼓骂曹》 《春闺梦》 1/2
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131006 2013上海行 京剧《击鼓骂曹》 《春闺梦》 2/2
Beijing Opera《击鼓骂曹》Ji Gu Ma Cao (Beating the Drum to Scold Cao Cao) and《春闺梦》Chun Gui Meng (Dream in a Girl’s Chamber)
Cast: Fu Xiru; Li Peihong, Jin Xiquan
10月7日（星期一）19:20 现场直播 京剧《连环套》
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131007 京剧《连环套》 1/2
《CCTV空中剧院》 20131007 京剧《连环套》 2/2
Beijing Opera《连环套》Lianhuantao (A Chain of Traps)
Cast: Wei Jijun, Yang Donghu, Yang Chi, Wang Ping, Yan Qinggu
Wang Ping’s specialty – military drama. Wang Ping is a recurring topic when discussing jingju with my Chinese friend, he constantly draws my attention to Wang Ping’s wusheng voice, which “doesn’t have laosheng flavour”. That’s true, yet I like him very much, Wang Ping is a very experienced performer with excellent gongfu. Personally I don’t like things overdone anyways.