The following Ma school classic is a Han vs. Hun story, it was often played by Ma Lianliang and Zhang Junqiu. Since it’s a fairly long play, it requires above the average singing skills, thus it’s often performed as a “highlights” version with the most famous excerpts.
This one is a full version, staged at the Chang’an Grand Theatre, Beijing. Faithfully to the traditional casting, the leading roles are played by Ma school laosheng Zhu Qiang and Zhang school actress Zhang Ping.
(Special note: I always laugh so hard at 1:40:52.)
→ 京剧《苏武牧羊》 Su Wu Muyang (Su Wu Herds Sheep)
[part1.rar] | [part2.rar] | [part3.rar] | [part4.rar] | [part5.rar] 946MB
Su Wu (苏武): Zhu Qiang (朱强)
Hu Ayun (胡阿云): Zhang Ping (张萍)
Li Ling (李陵): Zhang Wei (张威)
Wei Lü (卫律): Wang Jue (王珏)
Hu Kedan (胡克丹): Liu Kuikui (刘魁魁)
The Xiongnu Chanyu: Wei Jiaqing (危佳庆)
Kun Yandi (壸衍鞮): Hu Bin (胡滨)
Chang Hui (常惠): Chen Guosen (陈国森)
Peng Yin (彭殷 ): Di Jiandong (翟建东)
Fu Jiezi (付介子): Wang Baoli (王宝利)
Since Han general Wei Qing’s major victory over the Xiongnu, several years pass by without friction between the two states. However, despite of peace negotiations, the Xiongnu’s intention is still to invade the Han mainlands.
Hu Kedan, the highest Xiongnu military officer is coming with armed forces against Peng Yin. Su Wu, ordered by the Han emperor, comes to help out by suing for peace as an envoy.
Wei Lü previously was a Han ambassador who surrendered to the Xiongnu, and later was put in an important position by the chanyu. He tries to convince Su Wu to surrender too, but Su Wu refuses to go against the feudal ethical code and remains faithful to the Han emperor. Su Wu meets the chanyu who gets offended because Su Wu doesn’t kneel down before him. Su Wu explains he’s not obliged to, since he’s a messenger of peace on imperial order, holding the yak-tail decorated rod. The chanyu gets furious, and accepts the treacherous Wei Lü’s suggestion to send Su Wu to Beihai at the Baikal lake to herd sheeps, with the condition that when the rams give birth, he can return.
The Han emperor sends an expedition force of 3000 soldiers under Li Ling to crush Xiongnu, but he gets defeated and captured by Hu Kedan. Li Ling refuses to surrender to the Xiongnu, so the chanyu wants to execute him, but since Li Ling is a brave general and his military skills would come handy to the Xiongnu state, Hu Kedan suggests better let Princess Huayan betrothed with him. Li Ling finally yields to the temptation of high position and great wealth, he doesn’t have another option anyways, and gives in. Su Wu is greatly disfavouring Li Ling’s decision. He was hoping that the Han emperor will send troops to his rescue, but Li Ling is showing him that the Xiongnu-Han borders are dark, no-one comes from the South. Su Wu is very sorrowful and stays in Beihai.
Ten years go by. The new Xiongnu ruler, Kun Yandi is in need of talented officials. Li Ling tells him about the exiled Su Wu, and suggests that in order to gain his alliance, they should send him a wife, maybe that makes him surrender. They choose Hu Kedan’s daughter, Hu Ayun as bride.
Meanwhile Kun Yandi gets a letter from the Han emperor, inquiring about Su Wu’s whereabout. Kun Yandi realizes that Su Wu is a great talent, and falsely informs the Han government that Su Wu is dead for many years.
Hu Ayun arrives to the palace. Kun Yandi, seeing how beautiful she is, wants her to become an imperial concubine, but the girl refuses, so as intended, she’s sent to Su Wu as a wife.
Su Wu is grumpy at their first meeting, but with due course of time the two get more and more fond of each other, and despite the hard conditions at the desolate place, Hu Ayun becomes Su Wu’s devoted wife, also she gives birth to a child. Su Wu is still holding to his staff, using it to herd the sheep, though the decorations one after another fall off. (If you check it in the beginning the rod has 9 yellow yak tails, when he meets Hu Ayun it has 6, and at the end it has only 3.)
Another nine years later the Later Han courtyard gets informed that Su Wu is still alive. The emperor dispatches Fu Jiezi to the Xiongnu on a diplomatic mission, to get Su Wu back. In the first run the chanyu is denying that Su Wu is alive, but after Fu Jiezi is facing him with the fact that a wild goose was shot in the Han imperial garden, and the bird had a message attached to his feet in which Su Wu asked for help, he confesses. Kun Yandi is willing to return Su Wu to his homeland, but refuses to let his wife to accompany him. Seeing that his husband, though heartbroken, is willing to part with her and the child, Ayun commits suicide – firstly because she’s already bond to Su Wu by deep emotions and unwilling to live without him, secondly to make it easier for Su Wu to leave. Finally Su Wu and his child return to Han land.