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“I never thought that it’ll become my career”—As a bright-eyed teenager, Cantonese opera doyen Christopher Choo harboured dreams of being recognised as a Chinese opera star, and went on to study with one of the Four Kings of Chinese opera, Leng Chi Pak. Now, 45 years later, Christopher is a master in his own right. Watch as he shares his expertise and the specific archetype of the laosheng (elderly male) role, using examples from his own journey as an artist—one inexorably intertwined with the life of Chinese opera in Singapore.
See Christopher in action in Tracing Origins – The Life and Times of Cantonese Opera’s Laosheng from 22 – 24 Apr 2022.
Choo is the only disciple of the legendary master Leng Chi Pak, who adorned Choo with his stage name, Zhen Bang. During his career, Choo also studied under the late Ren Da Xun, a famous master of the Beijing operatic style in Hong Kong, and the well-known Cantonese opera actor and Singapore Cultural Medallion recipient, Joanna Wong Quee Heng.
Since starting his operatic pursuit in 1976, Choo has been on a mission to revive Cantonese and other operatic art forms in Singapore. It is his dream that the plethora of operatic art forms be passed on to future generations.
Choo specialises in the laosheng (elderly male) role, and also takes on the clown, painted faces, elderly female role, scholarly and warrior male roles. He is an all-rounded Chinese opera performer and has graced many stages in China, UK, US, Japan and Egypt on various occasions. As a pioneer graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts in Directing, Choo has accumulated close to 50 years of experience in the performing arts scene. He is also one of the few opera artists who is capable of both acting and directing. Choo is a familiar face at various Chinese opera arts festivals and seminars in Singapore. Besides the operatic arts, Choo is also involved with directing and acting in the local Chinese and English theatre scene.
Choo is an incumbent member of the arts assessment panel with the Singapore National Arts Council. He was also on the adjudicators’ panel for many arts awards. In 2012, he received a special contributions award conferred by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and in 2014, he was recognised as a Friend of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
A showcase of a traditional art form
Chinese opera doyen Christopher Choo pays homage to his beloved art form and honours the memory of his late master, Leng Chi Pak.