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.
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.
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.
The Legend of the Purple Hairpin is written by Tong Dik Sang, a famous Cantonese opera dramatist, who based it on a Tang Dynasty novel, The Story of Huo Xiaoyu, and the classic Yuan Dynasty play, The Legend of the Purple Flute, by Tang Xianzu. This is another of Tong Dik Sang’s operas which eulogize the theme of love and devotion.
In the Tang Dynasty, a young scholar, Li Yi, has travelled to the capital, Changan, to take the national civil examination. During his stay in the capital, he is told that a pretty young woman who loves to dress in purple admires his poetry greatly. She is a courtesan named Huo Xiaoyu. He hopes that he will have a chance to meet her. On the evening of the Lantern Festival*, he and his friends roam around the city to enjoy the magnificent lanterns and the beautiful maidens strolling by as they look for the one dressed in purple.
Li Yi by chance picks up a purple hairpin that belongs to Huo Xiaoyu, who falls in love with him at first sight. She gives him the hairpin as a token of her love for him. Li Yi’s close friend persuades him to go to her family to ask for her hand. Xiaoyu’s mother is eager to have a talented son-in-law to restore their family fortune and agrees to the marriage proposal. The couple have the informal wedding that same night.
The next day after the wedding, the examination result is announced. When Li Yi is awarded the first place in the examination, he and his wife, Xiaoyu, are overjoyed with this good news. However, good fortune soon turns into a disaster for a high court official’s daughter has a chance meeting with Li Yi on the night of the Lantern Festival and she too falls in love with him. She begs her father to arrange a marriage, so she can marry Li Yi. When Official Lo proposes the marriage to Li Yi, he refuses because he considers himself married to Xiaoyu. His refusal angers Official Lo, who then sends Li Yi to the frontier as a reprimand and so forces the newly-wed couple to separate from each other.
While Li Yi is away for three long years without any means of correspondence with his wife, Xiaoyu’s livelihood becomes harder as days go by. She stops being a courtesan after the marriage, so she has to rely on pawning her jewellery to support her family and Li Yi’s downtrodden friend. When Li Yi returns from his frontier posting, Official Lo detains him in his house in order to force the young man to marry his daughter. Li Yi is told if he refuses, Official Lo will expose his scheme against the state. If this happens not only he but his family will also be punished. Li Yi still rejects the proposal and tries to kill himself, but Official Lo continues with the wedding preparation.
Meanwhile, Xiaoyu is forced to sell off her precious purple hairpin. She then comes to know that the Lo family has bought the hairpin for their daughter’s wedding to Li Yi. Helpless and heartbroken, Xiaoyou goes to pray in the temple, where she accidentally meets a mysterious person in a yellow robe. He helps Li Yi to see Xiaoyu again, but Li Yi is taken by force back to the Lo family. At the mysterious man’s suggestion, Xiaoyu goes to Official Lo’s mansion to demand the release of her husband. At her arrival, the Lo household is busy preparing for the wedding ceremony. Her presence infuriates Official Lo, who devises a scheme to kill her right in the main hall.
In the nick of time, the man in the yellow robe appears. He reveals his true identity, that of the Fourth Prince. He is under the Emperor’s instructions to investigate Official Lo for treason. Now that he has the needed evidence, he arrests Official Lo. In the end, Li Yi’s and Xiaoyu’s devotion and love for each other are justly rewarded and they are able to be formally married.