Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 19 News List

High-flying operastar limbering up

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER


Hugely popular martial arts opera star Li Bao-chun (李寶春) makes a welcome return to the stage this weekend for a series of performances at Taipei's Novel Hall. Entitled Choice Peking Opera with Li Bao-chun (新老戲之四齣好老戲), the series of shows, which begins tomorrow evening, will see Li teaming up with some of the biggest names in Beijing opera to perform reworkings of four classic operas.

Born in Hebei Province in 1950 to a celebrated theatrical family, Li was the first son of the legendary Beijing opera star, Li Shao-chun (李少春). At 10 he was admitted to the Beijing opera school where he studied for eight years. On graduation he was assigned to the Chinese National Opera Troupe.

Li relocated to the US in the mid-1980s, where he was awarded the outstanding Asian artist award by the Chinese American Arts Council in 1987. In 1989 Li moved to Taiwan and helped establish the Taipei Nova Chinese Opera Troupe, which he now heads.

He specialized in the role of the bearded old man (Laosheng, 老生) in his formative years in China, but Li's name has since become synonymous in Taiwan with the high-flying martial arts combat hero, (Wusheng, 武生). While it is his high-flying portrayals of Wusheng and the Monkey King that have made such an indelible mark on Taiwan's opera scene, Li remains proficient in all operatic roles.

Organized by the Koo Foundation (辜公亮文教基金會), this weekend's performances feature four very different styles of opera that showcase not only Li's more acrobatic opera side, but also his down-to-earth and more vocal operatic skills as well. All the shows have been extensively reworked by Li in order to reduce their length and enable him to highlight the best parts.

The series includes a special adaptation of the Kun opera (崑曲) Fifteen Strings of Copper (十五貫), scenes from the classic Qing Dynasty opera The Jade Cup Named Snow White (一捧雪), the fast paced and high-flying martial arts opera Wu Zi-xu, the Innocent Fugitive (子胥) and the more music-orientated Secret in The Long Feng Chamber (大探二).

Performance notes:

What: Choice Peking Opera with Li Bao-chun (新老戲之四齣好老戲)

Where: Taipei's Novel Hall (新舞台), which is located at 3, Songshou Rd, Taipei(臺北市松壽路3號)

What: Saturday through Wednesday, June 9.

Tickets: Tickets cost from NT$500 to NT$1,500 and are available from ERA Ticketing Outlets nationwide, or direct from the Novel Hall.

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