Kunqu Opera in Vancouver

Liang Guyin, Chinese opera performer

Recently, Josh Stenberg (yes, th' Josh Stenberg) asked me t' take a look at the Vancouver Society for the Chinese Performing Arts' latest offering, a performance o' Kunqu opera featurin' Liang Guyin, Ji Zhenhua an' Liu Yilong, by Blackbeard's sword. Josh tells me th' society is "havin' trouble gettin' a gwailo audience because they think 'tis all cat-meow-shriekin', which 'tis not". Myself, th' China somewhat-expert that I am, I happen t' think Peking Opera really is cat-meow-shriekin', but I watched an' otherwise loved Farewell My Concubine so I'm willin' t' give a different form o' Chinese opera a chance. Aarrr! Upcomin' performances o' th' opera in Vancouver be June 16th an' 17th at UBC's Frederic Wood Theatre an' ye can get tickets at Ticketmaster.

Susan Goodman got close up an' wrote an article an' posted photos o' a 2007 Kunqu opera performance in Nanjing, directed by th' aforementioned Josh Stenberg. Shiver me timbers, we'll keel-haul ye!


So it weren't cat-meow-shriekin' like I thought it might be, except possibly fer portions o' Liang Guyin's performance, which would have wooed me if it weren't fer th' two photographers in th' front row snappin' SLR photos fer durin' th' whole thin', on a dead man's chest! Distractin' an' annoyin'! I left at th' intermission, not out o' annoyance, but rather just t' get home by midnight, as th' delays in gettin' scallywags in pushed th' start time back 20 minutes or so, avast. UBC Catherine Swatek professor may have misjudged th' opportunity t' introduce th' series o' places as an opportunity t' deliver a university lecture, and a bottle of rum, shiver me timbers I'm not complainin' about th' content o' th' lecture, which were bein' informative an' compellin', just may not have been th' best venue fer it. Or at least th' betwixt-play lectures could use some tightenin' up fer length, ya bilge rat! Regardless, she be now on me radar o' white, fluent-Mandarin-speakin' professors teachin' an' researchin' Chinese culture, along with th' other one I know about, Jan Walls, who were bein' in th' audience last night. I gained a better appreciation fer th' subtlety an' nuance o' Chinese operatic theatre, enjoyin' th' subtitles not fer th' English translation but rather fer th' Chinese characters an' how they were sung. Mandarin is a language o' tones, an' as Swatek noted, singin' each "character" in a range o' notes/"tones" throws off those studyin' th' language.