Cantonese Opera Appreciation Series: Lecture II: "The Tale of the Purple Hairpin – A Glimpse of the Allure of Chang’an during the Tang Dynasty" 《紫釵記》看唐代長安文化
Originating from Southern China’s Guangdong province, Cantonese opera represents a significant part of Chinese opera. It is a traditional Chinese art form which incorporates stories drawn from Chinese history and iconic Chinese classics and myths. Being a multi-disciplinary art form, Cantonese opera often involves music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics, and acting.
Further, the philosophies and culture of the Chinese people are infused in the plays, often reflecting virtues such as loyalty, love, patriotism and faithfulness.
To help its appreciation, the HKU Museum Society is pleased to present the second installment of the Cantonese Opera Appreciation Series of lecture, backstage visit and performance for The Tale of the Purple Hairpin《紫釵記》.
The lecture is given by two experts in history, arts and culture, Ms. Lee Meiyin & Dr. Irene Tsang. Performing artist 李沛妍Ms. Li-Pui-yan, will be at the lectures to add perspective as the leading lady.
We will visit theatre backstage lead by a trained docent who speak both English & Chinese to see Performing artist李沛妍Ms. Li-Pui-yan dressed and make-up for her female role in the Cantonese Opera performance. The performance will be in Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles.
“Tale of the Purple Hairpin”
On the night of Lantern Festival, a talented young man from Chang’an, Li Yi, recovers a purple hairpin that has been dropped by Xiaoyu, the woman of his dreams. Moved by his sincerity, Xiaoyu ‘s mother agrees for the two to get married on that very night. Li then seals the vow of eternal love to her in blood letters.
Although he has passed the imperial examination, Li is appointed to a position beyond the Great Walls after failing to pay homage to Lu, a senior official in charge of military affairs. Lu sees to it that nothing should be heard from Li for three years, during which Xiaoyu falls gravely ill and lives by pawning her jewelry.
Lu summons Li back to Chang’an with the intention of forcing the young man to marry his daughter. Lu further procures the purple hairpin pawned by Xiaoyu and shows it to Li as proof that his wife has remarried. Li is convinced, but he showed his determination and objected strongly to the marriage proposal. Infuriated, Lu threatens to accuse Li of expressing treacherous ideas in his poems, leaving him no choice but to comply. Upon hearing her husband has betrayed her, Xiaoyu spews out blood.
With the help of “Yellow Gown”, a chevalier in charge of military affairs, Xiaoyu reunites with Li, clearing up all misunderstandings. When Lu has his men take Li to his house by force, “Yellow Gown” orders Xiaoyu to break into the house to claim her husband. It turns out that the yellow–gowned chevalier is the emperor’s brother. The chevalier deposes Lu in the name of justice. Xiaoyu and Li Yi are finally reunited.
Ms. Lee Meiyin’s areas of research include the history, art and costumes of the ethnic minorities of China, Buddhist art, Dunhuang art, silk and embroideries. She previously served as HKUSPACE guest lecturer (2000-2010), as well as a member of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee. She is currently a specially appointed research fellow of Dunhuang Academy, and Vice President of the Friends of Dunhuang (Hong Kong). She also serves on the Board of Dunhuang Grottoes Preservation and Research Foundation of China, and as an expert advisor to the public museums of Hong Kong.
Dr. Irene Tsang obtained her MA and PhD in art and archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After completing her doctoral degree, she taught Chinese culture and art history in City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Later on, she joined HKU SPACE and held the position of Programme Director of Art and Design, devoting efforts to promoting art and culture through continuous education.
Dr. Tsang’s research interests include Chinese theatre history and ancient Chinese performing arts. She has been a fan of Chinese xiqu since early age, and is still practicing Cantonese opera singing as a hobby.
曾舜寧博士在英國倫敦大學亞非學院 (SOAS) 取得碩士與博士學位，主修考古學與藝術史。畢業後，曾博士在香港城市大學及香港理工大學任教，教授中國文化和藝術史等課程。随後她加入香港大學專業進修學院，擔任藝術及設計科課程主任，致力透過持續教育推廣文化與藝術。
Born in New York from a family of Cantonese opera heritage and a graduate from Wellesley College, Li Pui-yan has been taught by numerous famed Cantonese opera performers. Since her debut as principal actress in Floral Princess (Youth Edition) in 2007, she has performed for the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Chinese Opera Festival, Macau Arts Festival as well as the benefit inaugural performance at ASHK’s Miller Theatre. Her repertoire ranges from classics to new productions such as Deling and the Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Arrant Revenge, and adaption of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Recently, through working with artists from other disciplines, such as Ming Wong and Mariko Mori, she is inspired to further explore the cross-disciplinary potential of this traditional art form. Aside from performing, Li is devoted to the English translation of Cantonese opera librettos and has served on the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee in Hong Kong for various terms.