Celebrating Singapore’s 58th National Day with Cantonese Opera Classics

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29 July 2023 | Saturday | 7.30 pm

Language: Cantonese (with English subtitles)

Duration: 150 mins

Tickets: $20, $30, $50

Get your tickets here.

Get set for a one-night-only performance featuring Li Junsheng, a hugely popular Cantonese opera artiste from Guangzhou, China, in two opera pieces. Li, who is a Plum Blossom Award winner and a Grade One artist, will delight with his velvety vocals and riveting portrayals.

 The first piece is an aria “Regrets in Shen Garden” that features a choir and full orchestral accompaniment with Li Junsheng in the role of the poet Lu You who lived in 12th Century. The second is Li Junsheng’s piece de resistance “Ode to Thunder and Rain” where he plays Emperor Shun Zhi of the Qing Dynasty.

 Playing the female lead in both pieces is Singapore’s Tina Wong who has risen in prominence in the Cantonese opera scene here with her passion for and promotion of Cantonese opera. Tina plays Tang Wan in “Regrets in Shen Garden” and Imperial Concubine Dong E in “Ode to Lightning and Rain”.

 Treat No. 2 is the debut of Wen Hui in Singapore who won the Gold Award in the recent Guangdong Province Cantonese Opera Competition. Wen Hui will dazzle with her portrayal of Princess Dai Zhan in the opera excerpt of the same name. The male lead is Yang Zongming and they belong to the new generation of young artistes groomed in China today.

 The third highlight is guzheng soloist Malisa Lim Yuan Yuan who has won numerous awards in the Asian region for her music. She was with the School of Young Talents Programme in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for 13 years.

 Lending strong support to the show are veteran Singapore opera artistes Christopher Choo, who is known for his laosheng (old man) role, and Choy Yien Chow, who specialises in the wusheng (martial) role.

 The one-night performance on July 29, 2023 titled Regrets . RejoicingsCelebrating Singapore’s 58th National Day with Cantonese Opera Classics ­is co-organised by the Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre Foundation and Tung On Opera.

 The Artistic Director of Tung On Opera, Chen Xiaorui, has based the artistic concept on the blend of traditional and new classics, music, comedy and movement. The highlight is certainly the collaboration of foreign professionals and Singapore performers.

 Expect a rousing round of inspiring and mesmerizing drama in this one-night performance that will feature:

1.     “Regrets in Shen Garden”: The harmony of voice and orchestra make this narrative of the ill-fated romance between poet Lu You and his wife, Tang Wan larger than life. Li Junsheng plays Lu You and Tina Wong is the tragic Tang Wan.

 2.     “Monkey King Snatches Treasures of Heaven”: Focus on the unique martial movements of Chinese opera as Monkey King outwits Er Lang Shen. Choy Yien Chow plays Er Lang Shen and Gordon Choy is Monkey King.

 3.      “Battling The Typhoon”: The guzheng solo, written by China’s Wang Changyuan in 1965, is a rousing rendition of port workers bravely pitting their strength against the typhoon.

 4.     “Grabbing The Flute”: This comic piece is set to bring on the laughs as Dong Dai and his matchmaker wife fight to grab the flute that signals the start of a wedding. Christopher Choo is Dong Dai and May Choong is the matchmaker.

 5.     “Princess Dai Zhan”: Action speaks louder than words in this dazzling display of operatic martial arts by Wen Hui as Princess Dai Zhan.

 6.     “Ode to Thunder and Rain”: The finale highlights the pathos of eternal parting. Yet it rejoices in the love of the dying Imperial Concubine Dong E (Tina Wong) for Emperor Shun Zhi (Li Junsheng), encouraging him to live for his country and his people.

The prelude to the performances is a symphonic rendition of China composer Bu Canrong’s “A Celebration of National Day with Cantonese Musical Gems”. It had its premiere last year but its theme of Singaporeans’ patriotism, resilience and determination is timeless.