Vancouver Cantonese Opera presents “The Legend of the Red Peony” on April 18, 2015 (Saturday), at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, at 7:00 p.m.
One day in the Tang court, the Tang Emperor is having an audience with his officials when one of them tries to flatter him. He tells the Emperor how well he has governed the kingdom, and that everyone is enjoying a peaceful and prosperous life. The official says that even flowers benefit from his benevolent rule and at his command could all blossom beautifully at the same time.
His royal concubine, Lady Wu, is eager to please the Emperor, so she tells him she is willing to try on his behalf to make all flowers blossom at once. Then she writes up a decree and sends it to the Flower God to carry out that order.
The Flower God realizes that Lady Wu will become the first Empress in China and is a person to reckon with, so he beats the drum to tell all flowers to blossom at once. One of the flower fairies, Fairy Red Peony, refuses to obey the order. She thinks Lady Wu has no right to upset the natural order. The Flower God is furious and decides to punish Peony.
Meanwhile, in the mortal world, Lady Wu finds out that the peony flowers refuse to blossom out of season. She then orders that all the peonies be destroyed. A mortal called Man-hon, who is an ardent peony admirer, stands up to defend the innocent flowers against the magistrate’s order and willingly helps Peony to flee to a safe place. Peony is extremely touched by his sincerity and integrity. She wants to repay his kindness and so becomes his wife.
The Flower God finally finds out where Peony has been hiding in Loyang, and leads his army of gods to capture her. In the end, Peony is no match for these powerful enemies and is badly beaten. When Man-hon finds out about Peony’s injury, he is at a loss as to what to do. At that point the Spring Breeze God comes to his aid. He tells Man-hon to seek the Goddess of Mercy’s assistance.
Will Man-hon be able to revive Peony? Come and find out on April 18th, 2015 at the MJF Theatre.
唐高宗之武曌. 以高宗晚年多病, 因而臨朝執政. 帝一向愛植花卉, 武后為討其歡心,，時值隆冬, 仍思百花齊放, 於是寫下詔書上奏天庭, 懇使花神促令宮內各類花卉立即綻放. 花神接詔後, 因預知武后日後必趨大紅大紫, 於是擊起催花鼓, 促命百花齊放,
獨牡丹仙子紅萼, 以個性專橫之武后無端破壞循環氣節, 等如逆天行事, 拒不從命. 花神大怒, 從 天庭召 合雨, 電, 風, 雷各神, 一同駕電排雲下凡, 追蹤至洛陽, 紅萼雖力拒, 卻以體弱被毆至重傷垂死. 此際文翰正悲痛欲絕.
一向與紅萼深交之春風大哥, 卻趕來指引文翰拜上紫竹林, 乞請觀音大士賜施楊枝甘露, 俾紅萼服後得以痊癒. 文翰果從觀音大士手中獲取楊枝金露, 但紅萼服飲後仍無起色, 終於花榭人亡.
劇情發展至此, 台上出現文翰慈母, 催促文翰即與金家女成親. 花轎臨門之時, 文翰在一家簇擁下發覺金氏女之花容月貌, 正與紅萼一無異致. 原來觀音大士設法將牡丹之魂魄附於金家女, 眼前之新娘即紅萼牡丹. 最終, 文翰與紅萼在衆仙女相伴紅萼起舞下, 相相跪下拜堂成親, 有情人終成美眷
Vancouver Cantonese Opera presents “The Romance of the Broken Mirror” on July 11, 2015 (Saturday), at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, at 7:00 p.m.
Seating plan (last updated May 28, 2015)
This opera is a tragic love story that takes place during the founding of the Sui Dynasty (581-618 A.D.), a time of chaos. Yang Yue, a Sui general, is leading an army to attack the Kingdom of Chen in the south, which could not resist the powerful Sui army and is losing the battle. It is arranged that the Princess Consort, Xu Deyan, should flee the capital with the important genealogy documents and bring them to safety. Before he departs, he says farewell to his wife, Princess Lechang. She breaks a bronze mirror into two halves. Each of them keeps one half so that these become the tokens of their reunion on a later day.
Meanwhile, Yang Yue’s army has arrived at the palace and is searching for the members of the royal household. In order to gain time for Deyan’s escape, Lechang bravely goes to talk to Yang Yue in disguise and flirts with him. When Yang Yue discovers her tricks and wants to kill her, she is willing to face death fearlessly. Yang Yue is impressed by her courage and sympathizes with her. He therefore wants to rescue her from the destruction of her kingdom. He asks her to impersonate his late wife, and arranges to have her and her son taken back to his home in the capital, Changan.
At the beginning, Yang Yue and Lechang just pretend to be a married couple. As time goes by, Lechang can feel Yang Yue’s true love for her; she decides to become his wife, not just in name. Ten years later, when Deyan is selling one half of the broken mirror on the street in Changan, he meets his son, Xiaode, and knows his wife is remarried. As soon as Yang Yue comes to know about the pledge of the broken mirror, he decides to make Lechang happy by sending her back to her former husband although his heart tells him not to. Yang Yue starts treating Lechang abusively, so she will leave him while Deyan feels Lechang should stay with Yang Yue, so they both refuse to have her back. Lechang gets caught between the two beloved – she feels she has betrayed Deyan for marrying Yang Yue and does not want to let Yang Yue down for his love and benevolence. The dilemma is too much for her. .
Vancouver Cantonese Opera presents “Happy Marriage Achieved” on April 25th, 2014 (Friday), at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, at 7:00 p.m.
Seating plan (last updated: Feb 2, 2014)
Qiao Dan-feng, a brilliant girl with civil and military talents, is proficient in Chinese medicine. She is always at odds with Dai-Sangu, a woman quack opposite to her clinic. Zhang Zhong-chi, a marquis from Huainan, looks for his mother, who has left him in his childhood. Sangu disguises herself as Zhong-chi’s mother so as to cheat him for his fortune. Zhong-chi is fooled by Sangu and thinks that she is his mother.
Zhong-chi has a prenatal betrothal with Shima Jiao-tong; yet he has discord with Jiao-tong’s brother, which bothers the marriage. Meanwhile, Jiaotong has a secret love with a nobleman and seeks help from Dan-feng in order to escape from the marriage with Zhong-chi. Thus Dan-feng disguises herself as Jiao-tong and decides to spoil the marriage. However, Zhong-chi and Dan-feng fall in love with each other when they first meet. Sangu learns that Dan-feng impersonates Jiao-tong and plans to unmask her. But Sangu herself is also a fake and cannot unveil Dan-feng’s plot. Eventually Zhong-chi and Dan-feng manage to have their wedding in the end.
Applying makeup for Cantonese opera is a long and specialized process.
One of the most common styles is the “white and red face”: an application of white foundation, with red around the eyes and on the cheeks. The eyebrows are sometimes elongated. Lipstick is usually bright red.
Actors are given temporary facelifts by holding the skin up with a ribbon on the back of the head. This lifts the corners of the eyes, producing an authoritative look.
Each role has its own style of make-up: the clown has a large white spot in the middle of his face, for example. A sick character has a thin red line pointing upwards in between his eyebrows. Aggressive and frustrated character roles often have a “ying hong jee” (an arrow shape fading into the forehead) in between the eyebrows.
Strong male characters wear “hoy meen” (開面; “open face”) makeup. Each character’s makeup has its own distinct characteristics, with symbolic patterns and coloration.