The founder of the Hong Kong Cantonese Opera Troupe and the third wife of the "gambling king", Ho Chan Yuen Chun, announced at the end of last month that she donated to the Hong Kong Metropolitan University to establish the "Ho Chan Yuen Ching Cantonese Opera Research and Art Centre" to promote Cantonese opera teaching guides. President Lam Chunsheng said today (6 June) that the University has been actively promoting the transfer and exchange of Cantonese opera knowledge, launching a general education subject "Cantonese Opera Culture: Guided Tours and Experiences" as early as the summer of 2021, and the Cantonese Opera Research and Art Centre will launch a three-to-five-year collaboration project focusing on translating classic Cantonese opera into English to promote the art to overseas Chinese audiences.

On May 5, CUHK announced that it had received a donation from Ho Chan Yuen Zhen to establish the Ho Chan Wan Zhen Cantonese Opera Research and Art Center to promote Cantonese opera teaching and guidance. The inauguration ceremony will be held on 31 August this year, and the first special performance of Folding Opera will be held to study the essence of Cantonese opera, performing five classic Cantonese opera folding operas.

Lin Qunsheng said that through the translation and exchange of Cantonese opera scripts and academic research related to Cantonese opera, the local young generation and overseas people will enhance the understanding and appreciation of Cantonese opera, and promote cultural and artistic exchanges between China and foreign countries. The Centre will study, develop and pass on Cantonese opera, a world-class intangible cultural heritage, and promote this precious art to overseas Chinese audiences.

He said that he would initially translate shorter folding operas before dealing with full-length Cantonese opera, with the ultimate goal of bringing more people to understanding Cantonese opera and Chinese culture.

"Gambling King" third wife Ho Chan Yuen Chin (front left) attends the ceremony of donating to Metropolitan University to establish the "Ho Chan Yuen Ching Cantonese Opera Research Centre" on May 5. (Photo courtesy of Duda)

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the University held a large-scale variety Cantonese opera evening "Dream of the Red Mansion" at the Grand Theatre of the Chinese Opera Centre in West Kowloon Cultural District in 2019 to promote Cantonese opera to different communities in the community. As early as the summer of 2021, the general education course "Cantonese Opera Culture: Guided Tour and Experience" was launched to enhance students' understanding of the history and culture of Cantonese opera.

In recent years, CUHK has also held a number of seminars and lectures on Cantonese opera, such as hosting a seminar on "Innovation and Inheritance of Cantonese Opera Singing Genres in Hong Kong in the 2022s and 8s" in August 1930, which was delivered by Chan Shou Yan, a senior Cantonese opera and opera research scholar, and a number of scholars and Cantonese opera masters. In December of the same year, a lecture on "The Inheritance and Creation of Cantonese Opera Famous Expressions" was shared by veteran Cantonese opera artist Yuen Siu-fai and senior musician of the Drama Company and CEO of Hong Kong Cantonese Opera Troupe, Wang Shengquan.

Lam Chun Sing, President of the University of Tokyo, and Wang Shengquan, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cantonese Opera Troupe, explain the promotion of Cantonese opera.

Lin Qunsheng said that seeing that the younger generation is relatively new to Cantonese opera, university subjects focus on classroom interaction, such as Wang Shengquan, who was invited to teach, when explaining traditions such as cart gong frame and male huadan, accompanied by performance clips, and played musical instruments in class; and the concert performance by Zhu Qingxiang, a Cantonese opera music master, added interest to the class.

In order to allow students to experience the essence of Cantonese opera first-hand, teachers took students to the Xiqu Centre of West Kowloon Cultural District to conduct on-site lessons, where full-time actors and musicians demonstrated different stage techniques.

Wang Shengquan said that many studies in the past have not had final results or follow-up, and hoped that this collaboration can continue the previous studies and obtain results, so that the industry can make corresponding adjustments.

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