Monday, July 18, 2011

Saturday with myself - Part 5 (Teochew Opera)

My Saturday ended at the Singapore Flyer to watch a free Teochew Opera Performance. I knew that I would not be able to understand what was spoken and sung by the artistes. Nevertheless I was interested to just go and feast my eyes on the beautiful opera costumes and headgears and to enjoy the graceful gestures and movements of Chinese Opera and I was not disappointed at all.

There were two acts - a short one and a longer one. 

This one is about a couple in the nuptial chambers expressing their happiness about their marital status - I guess.

The second performance as explained by a lady next to me who was one of the Opera performers on her day off. She told me that the average age of the artistes is 60 and that she was already a sixty-five-year old grandmother of three. She explained the story to me as it unfolded. Thanks to her I was able to enjoy the performance a lot more. 

The story was about a young couple bethrothed to each other from young and had never met each other until one day when the boy went to the girl's house to pay his respects to his prospective mother-in-law.

Later, as he was leaving, he bumped into the girl in the garden by chance. The girl fell in love with him and as a token of her interest in him, she 'accidentally' dropped her handkerchief and made a graceful exit.
Tjhe young man picked up the handkerchief with the intention of keeping it but was advised to return it to the girl by his faithful servant. He went looking for the girl and found her and her maid in attendance in the bedroom. While they were getting acquainted over the business of the handkerchief, the girl's mother came to fetch her to her Aunty's Birthday dinner. 
At the approach of the girl's mother, the boy had to find a place to hide and in desperation climbed into a large trunk in the room. The trunk is at the bottom right hand side of the picture below behind the girl.
The mother came into the room unaware of what had been happening and quickly shooed her daughter along to the birthday dinner. While toasting her Aunt and making the usual pleasantries over dinner, the girl appeared to be listless as her mind was on the boy locked in her room.
There was a funny scene in which the girl pretended to eat but was actually dropping food into a handkerchief held by her maid with the intention of bringing it back to feed the starving lad in her room when she got back. 
At this point, I had to leave and never saw the end of the opera. I really enjoyed the beautiful silk costumes and backdrops that were sewn in China. Unlike the costumes of Cantonese Opera, these costumes were in the style of Beijing Operas. Though I have a preference for Cantonese Operas, I was still able to enjoy this particular opera in the Teochew dialect because the nice lady next to me took the trouble to explain the story and the actions to me - in English because she thought that I could not speak Chinese well.


fr said...

I have watched quite a lot of Chinese opera but I don't think I have come across this story.

Do you remember the title of the opera?

Leone said...

great post indeed .... and I can even see me in one of your images!!!

Mable said...

Hi Fr,I managed to find a blog detailing this particular performance and learned that the name of the opera is "The Fragrant Handkerchief. The link is here:

I visited your blog and am glad to have found the kind of information I have been looking for on opera performances. Thanks!

Thanks Leone, we both had a great time at the opera. Fr's blog on Chinese Opera has information on more operas for the rest of the year!

fr said...

Thanks for the information, Mable.
I have not seen The Fragrant Handkerchief before.

Leone said...

You might like to read the blog I did on the experience of The Transformation!!

I found my visit to the Opera simply amazing and looking forward to attending again at Pulau Ubin.

lindystoryofmylife said...

Beautiful silk costumes indeed. Thanks for taking the time to blog this as it's a trip down memory lane.

When I was young I loved to watch all these wayangs. I had t go to the extent of putting a stool to reserve a'seat' a couple of hours b/4 the 'show' started. This is because no seats were provided. Those were the times when we have no TV, mini-compo etc

I am a Teochew but still didn't understand what's going on most of the time.

Now it's the chinese '7th ( ghost) month' so there will be more of these wayangs of various dialects.