Hong Kong’s Yue Opera Superfan
10 March 2015
Yue opera fans are mostly female, but in Hong Kong, there’s a superfan called Jonathan and he’s young.
Jonathan was 6 in 1983, “I remember Five Daughters Offering Felicitations most vividly. It was grand, lots of characters, the costumes were beautiful. The story’s quite complicated. My mum’s a Yue opera fan, so every time they came to Hong Kong, she took me, and I grew to like it too. Because of that, I’ve got a large collection of their cassettes as well as their house programmes from each of their Hong Kong visit, as well as hundreds of DVDs and videos tapes.”
Why Yue opera? “One, it’s very innovative. Two, it’s beautiful, impressionistic, matches well with my aesthetics. Three, I admire Mao Weitao, because in the mainland, the system demands content to adhere to a political standard or perform traditional operas, but Mao pushes for breakthroughs. Like her Butterfly Lovers, there’s a well-known Butterfly Lovers in Yue opera, but her version is brand new, not at all copying anything from the past – that’s very rare.” Jonathan also adds, Xiaobaihua’s new operas are usually shorter in duration, more suitable to younger audience at their first encounter with the art form, “Traditional Yue opera performances lasts for three hours, but new style performances are about an hour and half to two hours. It’s easier to digest. The designs of these productions also are more similar to modern theatre. If one’s interested in new style opera, it’s never too late to find out about traditions!”