Taiwan's top Peking opera troupe set for KLPac, George Town Festival shows


Two opera characters battling out in 'The Death Of Zhou Yu' story segment of the 'Jingju Magic - Love & Bewilderment' show. Photo: GuoGuang Opera Company

In July, brace yourself for a cultural spectacle as the traditions of Jingju (Peking opera) take centre stage, courtesy of the GuoGuang Opera Company from Taiwan.

The premiere of the Jingju Magic - Love & Bewilderment show, presented in Mandarin with English and Mandarin subtitles, will see an ensemble of 29 actors and musicians lighting up KLPac's Pentas 1 stage from July 12-14.

Following this, GuoGuang Opera Company will head up to Penang for the George Town Festival on July 20 and 21, where it is scheduled to perform as one of the festival's international highlights this year.

Jingju Magic-Love & Bewilderment presents a duo of double bills: Zhuangzi Tests His Wife and Lu Wenlong, The Death Of Zhou Yu, and Guiying’s Accusation Of Wang Kuei At The Temple. This fusion of traditional and contemporary performances highlights GuoGuang Opera Company's evolution over nearly three decades in the opera realm.

During a recent Kuala Lumpur visit to promote the shows, Chang Yu-hua, CEO of GuoGuang Opera Company, expressed confidence in Jingju's appeal to new audiences.

After a nine-year gap, the Taiwanese opera outfit is returning to Malaysia, poised to introduce a 200-year old traditional theatre art form that weaves together singing, music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts. In 2015, it performed at the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival.

Li Jia-de shows off his acting and combat skills, while wearing his opera costume during a demonstration session at KLPac recently. Photo: Chan Kien MingLi Jia-de shows off his acting and combat skills, while wearing his opera costume during a demonstration session at KLPac recently. Photo: Chan Kien Ming

GuoGuang Opera Company's upcoming shows at KLPac and the George Town Festival will be extensive productions.

"The language barrier doesn't matter if the show is performed in Hong Kong, Singapore, or France," said Chang at a media event in KLPac on Tuesday.

"Previously, we presented a rather modern production in Malaysia. This time, I'm eager to showcase our opera heritage comprehensively," she added.

Chang stresses the significance of familiarising people with Peking opera. Sufficient information about GuoGuang Opera Company's performances will surely capture the crowd's interest.

At KLPac, two cast members offered a brief glimpse of the theatrical experience.

Performer Li Jia-de, who takes on a male martial artist role ("Wusheng"), showcased his physical prowess with acrobatic stunts, along with a range of character movements and poses he utilises when playing a war general.

"The (opera) teacher would make us (actors) do splits and poses standing on one leg, to prepare us for the physical demands of the opera. It takes about eight years of training, two of those years are for physical training, while the remainder is to get into the characterisation of the role," said Li, adding that daily training focuses on flexibility and endurance.

Lin Ting-yu demonstrates the use of water sleeves during a short performance to promote the 'Jingju Magic - Love & Bewilderment' show at KLPac on April 30. Photo: Chan Kien MingLin Ting-yu demonstrates the use of water sleeves during a short performance to promote the 'Jingju Magic - Love & Bewilderment' show at KLPac on April 30. Photo: Chan Kien Ming

He explains that the minimalist stage design and few props ensure the spotlight is solely on the performers, who adeptly conjure the enchantment of grand theatre.

Lin Ting-yu, relishing her "Dan" (female) role, offered a glimpse of the powerful vocals required for Peking opera. She closed the preview session with her performance of a segment from Guiying's Accusation Of Wang Kuei,” which expressed the emotions of a woman in despair through her skillful manipulation of “water sleeves” (long white sleeves).

"For a long time, women were not allowed to act on stage, but now I'm thankful to have the opportunity to share with audiences our experience," said Lin.

"GuoGuang has also re-imagined some of the traditional stories, giving the female perspective, so I'm glad that they took the chance of being progressive without sacrificing the traditional elements of Peking opera" she added.

Founded in 1995, GuoGuang stands as Taiwan's sole national Peking opera ensemble, celebrated for its fusion of contemporary concepts with traditional opera, ensuring the genre remains vibrant and contemporary.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Culture

Discover the wonders of nature at KL's Forest Learning Centre
What we know about the Paris Olympics opening ceremony
Have you spotted these 'matchboxes' while driving around Kuala Lumpur?
A broken and beautiful world of shards, symbols and memories
Almodovar’s love affair with Spain’s capital city explored in new exhibition
Hermes v Hermes: Turkey bookshop marks win in copyright fight
Weekend for the arts: 'Twisted' fairy tales at KLPac, poetics of translation
'We are crying,': 8yo 'Goldsmith' mural in KL erased, street artist asks, 'Why?'
Strasbourg, with its literary history, shines as Unesco's World Book Capital 2024
Art is cool, museum tells sweltering Muscovites

Others Also Read