Opera revisited

On January 20, 2015, in Opera, photography, by omegaforest

After a few months of hiatus, I am back at the opera. The backstage to be exact. It was a new year, new start and looking for new inspirations.

I still spent most of my time backstage. The makeup moments were so magical. You almost felt that time had freeze for a few seconds.

Expect the unexpected

Expect the unexpected

Young or old, they memorized their lines. No shortcuts

Young or old, they memorized their lines. No shortcuts

There were no makeup artist on backstage. All performers were responsible for their own makeup.

Hairdo

Hairdo

Drawing the eye brown...

Drawing the eye brown…

and adding some nice macho moustache!

and adding some nice macho mustache!

Objects

The troupe master also double up as musician

The troupe master also double up as musician

Something we seldom get to see. Rehearsal.

At times, the troupe would perform new show. We would see them do a walk through and rehearsed their lines.

At times, the troupe would perform new show. We would see them do a walk through and rehearsed their lines.

Eight Immortals

On November 13, 2013, in Opera, by omegaforest

Tonight was another lucky day for me. The temple had requested the Eight Immortals for tonight’s 扮仙. It was visual treat.

More information on 扮仙 here.

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Tonight’s 扮仙 sequence.

 

The Eight Immortals are:
1.蒲扇(鍾離權)
2.葫蘆(李鐵拐)
3.花籃(藍采和)
4.荷花(何仙姑)
5.寶劍(呂洞賓)
6.竹笛(韓湘子)
7.魚鼓(張果老)
8.玉板(曹國舅)

1. The performance started with the Eight Immortals. They were paired up and took turn to dance in front of the altar.

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Performance by the Eight Immortals

Seen here is 何仙姑 and 藍采和

Seen here is 何仙姑 and 藍采和

06 Nov opera-11

Today, the musician performed inside the temple.

The Eight Immortals

The Eight Immortals. From Left to Right
1.花籃(藍采和)
2.竹笛(韓湘子)
3.寶劍(呂洞賓)
4.蒲扇(鍾離權)
5.葫蘆(李鐵拐)
6.魚鼓(張果老)
7.玉板(曹國舅)
8.荷花(何仙姑)

Blessings...

Blessings…

2. 加官
The second part is 加官. The performer is dressed up as an Court Official (God of Happiness). He bites onto a mask. As he cannot speaks, he send his blessing through auspicious text sew onto banners. Common texts that are found on these banner includes, “天官赐福”、“加官进爵”、“一品当朝”、“富贵长春”!

The masked official

The masked official

跳加官. In layman, it represent the God of Happiness

跳加官. In layman, this official represents the God of Happiness

3. The final segment is 金榜.
Before the show. They passed the Little Boy Deity to the temple helper. The deity is placed at the temple’s altar for worshiping.

The Little Boy Deity

The Little Boy Deity

金榜

金榜, Seen here the scholar and his wife

Offering and praying to all the gods in the temple hall

Offering and praying to all the gods in the temple hall

扮仙

On November 4, 2013, in Opera, by omegaforest

Every night at the opera is a new learning experience. Tonight, I will try to explain about 扮仙.

Significance
At the start of the opera show, there will be a short segment named 扮仙. In laymen, it literally means human dressing up as immortals. This is a common but important act during an opera show. The primary objective of 扮仙 is for the opera performers to take up roles as immortals, so that they can ask for blessing from the gods. In other occasion, the act of 扮仙 could be expressing birthday wishes to the deities, to celebrate an event or to redeem a vow to the god.

扮仙 is seen as an importance opening sequence. The main opera show can only start after the 扮仙 segment is completed. Thus 扮仙 segment is an act by itself. This segment has no relation to the main show.

There are three parts to 扮仙. They are 降神賜福, 封贈 and 團圓. As there are many different acts in 扮仙, I will explain 扮仙 with reference to tonight’s show.

Part 1
The first segmnent of 扮仙 is know as 降神賜福. Today’s 降神賜福 is 三仙會(仙戲). The story is about the three deities, 福,祿,壽 descending from heaven and giving blessing to the people.

福、祿、壽

Part 1: 福、祿、壽

福、祿、壽

福、祿、壽

Part 2
The second segment is known as 封贈. Seen here is an act name 加官(人間戲). We see a man dressed in an official costume, his hand holding to a piece of object(奏版) and biting on to a mask. There is no singing and he expresses himself using gestures. This act also illustrate a folkore.

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Part 2: 加官

 

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Part 3: Story of 金榜. The stick on the servant’s hand represent a horse.

金榜

Part 3
The third segment is 團圓. The story of 金榜(人間戲) illustrate the scholar going home to reunite with his wife. They would then pay respect at the temple, thanking the gods for their blessing. 金榜 is a compulsory act for the 扮仙 sequence.

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The Scholar’s wife holding on to the Little Boy Deity.

 

Tonight, the performers brought along the Little Boy Deity to pray to the gods. The Little Boy Deity is invited to the altar where he will watch the opera performance. At the same time, devotees can also pray to him.

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A helper from the temple receiving the Little God Diety.

 

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The Little Boy Diety at the altar

 

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Praying to the gods

 

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Praying to the Gods

 

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The servant hands the horse back to the scholar and they proceed back to the stage

 

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The performers return to the stage and prepare for the main show

 

Later in the evening, the Little Boy Deity is returned to the troupe.

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The Little God Deity returned to the troupe

 

扮仙 is normally performed during the celebration of the Gods birthday or for special occasion held in the temple. This segment is of great importance. It signifies the interaction of human and their gods. At the same time, the devotees also conveyed their wishes to the gods and prayed for their blessing.

Note:
Special thanks to Darron Ng, Kenneth Wong and other troupe members for their assistance. Feel free to drop me a message if you find any of the facts are incorrect. I am still in the process of learning and appreciating this wonderful art form.

For More Info:
1. 扮仙 @ 龍星掌中劇團
2.台灣民俗文化研究室

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