Monday, September 21, 2009

Beijing Opera performance: "锁麟囊 " (Suǒlínnáng)

Suǒlínnáng does not have an exact translation, it is actually a woven bag traditionally given to any bride to have a son (good luck), depending on the wealth of the family of the bride is the beauty and luxury of her Suǒlínnáng.

The opera was created in the 40s of last century by the playwright Ouhong Weng, and was first released in Shanghai, the Beijing’s premier was a year later at Chang'An Theatre. This is not an opera of anthology but it is staged quite often because, apparently, it was made for the showcasing of the singer who plays the main character, exposing her in a series of vocal acrobacies in its arias. Unlike most known operas Suǒlínnáng has no parts of fighting or acrobatics, but it makes use of comic characters (a maid is played by a man, for example) and use of great and complicated arias.

The story is very simple: Xianling is the only daughter from a very rich family, arrogant, refuses to accept the Suǒlínnáng her mother has given to her; in a walk before her wedding finds another bride who is very poor, Xianling gave to that young girl the luxurious Suǒlínnáng. As a result (or so it appears to be the result of) to have given the Suǒlínnáng Xialing has a daughter who later gets lost during a storm. Years later Xianling, completely in disgrace, finds his daughter who had been adopted by that poor bride who she had given the Suǒlínnáng. It comes the recognition of all the characters and there's a happy ending.

I saw this Opera at Chang'An Theatre in Beijing and the Xianling character was played by a very famous singer in China, Chíxiǎoqiū, who really has a phenomenal voice. The actress and singer is no longer young to make a young lady character but as in all Chinese drama that is not an important matter, theatrical codes are not measured here as in our Western realism.

As the value of the Opera is Xianling’s arias I thought it was best to share some of thaose scenes, plus a bonus song Chixiaoqiu gave us after the performance. Enjoy.

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