Chinese opera often draws inspiration from classic Chinese literature such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Water Margin. In this showcase, the renowned GuoGuang Opera Company from Taiwan presents three excerpts that not only spotlight Chinese literature classics, but also the skills and techniques of its performers, including martial arts feats and complex footwork.
Lü Bu Tests His Horse
This excerpt from Romance of the Three Kingdoms spotlights Lü Bu, the most skilled general in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280CE). The general has two fatal desires: horses and women. As such, his enemy Dong Zhuo gifted the horse Red Rabbit to Lü Bu, a stead that was more than equal to the general’s own fiery spirit and extraordinary abilities. This particular excerpt shows how Lü Bu subdues the Red Rabbit.
In contrast to the simple plot, the performance itself is a complex one where the protagonist dons heavy armour and complete many challenging martial sequences in time with the music.
Cast: Li Jia-de, Pan Shou-ho
This excerpt from Water Margin shows how Song Jiang murdered his wife Yan Xijiao and how her ghost returned to seek for her lover, Zhang San. Zhang San appeared to have completely forgotten his secret lover and in the end, he was seized alive by Yan to the netherworld.
This work showcases some of the most difficult techniques in Chinese opera, including the qiao footwork technique which is an imitation of the old ‘three-inch golden lotus’ practice of bound feet, using special shoes not unlike ballet slippers. This technique is almost completely lost in China, but remains highly preserved in Taiwan.
Cast: Lin Ting-yu, Wang Yung-tseng
Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea
A familiar household story that tells the tale of the Eight Immortals who were crossing the sea after attending a banquet. As they were drunk and feeling elated, they were showing off their skills which caused disruptions to the East Sea and created conflicts with other immortals of the sea.
This is an exciting excerpt with the various immortals taking turns to display their talents a dizzying and dazzling piece for audiences to watch!
Main cast: Chang Chia-ling, Tai Li-wu