Cantonese opera being performed in a similar
bamboo theater -- this time over on Lamma island
Have you heard about the Finnish woman who lives in England who is so much of a Cantonese opera fan that she regularly comes over to Hong Kong to attend Cantonese opera performances? It may sound like a joke but such a person really exists, and I count her as one of my friends.
At lunch earlier this week, I asked her if she knew of other Cantonese opera fans living in London. She shook her head and said no -- and then added that, actually, she didn't have any friends living in Hong Kong who were genuinely fans of Cantonese opera either!
Hearing this friend from far away wax lyrical and enthusiastically about her particular passion, I felt somewhat guilty for not being able to appreciate this local performing art more, and for attending just a handful of Chinese opera shows in the time that I've been in Hong Kong. At the same time, I actually think that I probably have attended quite a few more than most other residents of the Big Lychee -- local or foreign alike.
Also, while I have to admit to not being all that appreciative of Cantonese opera singing, I must say that I do get very impressed by the accompanying instrumental music, the performers' costumes, and the handpainted backdrops that often remain in use to this day, both at the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point and also the temporary bamboo theaters that spring up in various locales during the festive season. In addition, although I've not tended to go out of my way to attend a Cantonese opera performance, I usually am unable to resist checking out what's taking place inside a bamboo theater whenever I come across one -- which, more often than not, seems to be when I'm out hiking or am otherwise out of the city for the day.
Then there are the Hong Kong movies I've happily viewed over the years in which Cantonese opera performers prominently figure. Among the most memorable for me have been Ann Hui's The Spooky Bunch and Shu Kei's Hu-Du-Men. More than incidentally, I like how my real life sometimes has crossed paths with reel life in that I've actually come across a Cantonese opera troupe performing in a bamboo theater on Cheung Chau (like was the case with the Cantonese opera troupe featured in The Spooky Bunch) and watched Cantonese opera being performed at the Sunbeam Theatre (on whose stage Josephine Siao Fong Fong and co were seen performing in Hu-Du-Men)! ;b