More than 700 guests, students and staff of Lingnan University, as well as members of the public, attended the prelude to Lingnan Arts Festival 2014, the Hong Kong premiere of Kunqu opera Xu Pipa, presented by Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre, on 20 January. Prof Stephen Chan, Associate Vice-President (Academic Affairs) and Registrar of Lingnan University, and Ms Yang Fengyi, President of Northern Kunqu Opera Troupe, addressed the audience before the performance. Ms Florence Hui, SBS, JP, Under Secretary for Home Affairs of HKSAR, also attended the VIP reception before the performance.
Xu Pipa is based on the story of Cai Wenji, a woman scholar of the Later Han Dynasty who was captured and married to a Huns prince, and then returned to China with the assistance of Cao Cao. Five acts performed at the premiere include “A Visit to the Prison”, “Being Ransacked”, “A Dream”, “Compose the Tunes” and “The Banquet”. The main cast included award-winning actors and actresses Wei Chunrong, Shao Zheng and Hai Jun.
Unseen on stage for some 300 years, the 35-act manuscript of Xu Pipa written by Cao Yin, grandfather of Cao Xueqin, author of Dream of the Red Chamber, has been jointly retrieved and re-presented on stage by the Beijing Cao Xueqin Society, Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts. As one of the entrants at the BeSeTo Theatre Festival in 2011, Xu Pipa also won three major awards of Outstanding Title, Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Scenography at the Chinese Theatre Festival in 2013.