Experimental Cantonese Opera Farewell My Concubine (New Adaptation)

Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District

26, 27/5 │ Friday, Saturday │ 19:45
Small Auditorium, Macao Cultural Centre
Tickets: MOP 220

Breaking tradition while delicately portraying a wistful glance from the Overlord of Western Chu

Blending traditional Cantonese opera techniques with contemporary stage and lighting design, this groundbreaking production reinterprets the legendary story of the downfall of Xiang Yu, the self-proclaimed "Overlord of Western Chu". Told from the warlord's perspective, the narrative follows the hero in his last moments, with each scene pushing him deeper into despair.

This new adaptation of a classic work offers the audience an exciting, original performance that illustrates the transformation and development of Cantonese opera. The Xiqu Centre's first ever commissioned work, this production was recognised with the 2017 Best Experimental Xiqu Award at the China (Beijing) Performing Arts Expo 2018, and was selected for "The 40 Most Influential Experimental Theatres in Contemporary China" by the 40th Anniversary of Experimental Theatre in China in 2022.

Producer: Naomi Chung *
Playwrights, Directors and Music Arrangers: Keith Lai and Janet Wong
Technical Director: Rae Wu *

* Staff of West Kowloon Cultural District

Characters and Cast
Xiang Yu: Keith Lai
Yuji (Concubine Yu): Janet Wong
Groom / Soldier: Ng Lap-hei

Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes, no interval
Performed in Cantonese and Mandarin, with surtitles in Chinese and English

Introductory Text

The experimental Cantonese opera Farewell My Concubine not only stands as a newly adapted production but it also plays an important role in the preservation of this artistic tradition. The production is staged in the form of “experimental theatre” mainly with a view to enabling the audience to appreciate the beauty of Cantonese opera at close range. Without adopting any exquisite stage design or the “Six Pillars” system (six major roles), the entire play only has three characters Xiang Yu, Yuji and a groom (soldier), who showcase the past, present and future of Cantonese opera respectively with their performing skills. Such an adaptation not only reflects the new generation of Hong Kong-based Cantonese opera performers’ expectations for the future of this traditional genre, but also conveys the purpose of this production: presenting to the audience the evolution and development of Cantonese opera starting from a classic.

This experimental piece is created in a small scale yet with a broad perspective. Not only is it a touching love story between Xiang Yu and Yuji where the battle for national and personal interests is depicted, but also a vivid development history of Cantonese opera is unfolded through the story line, singing and music, and movement design and arrangements. Moreover, this production also opens another window for the preservation of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong.


By Yang Min-wei
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Literature at Chinese Culture University

This article is excerpted and translated from Chinese

Outreach Programme

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