Staff Picks

Legend of the Purple Hairpin

Jason Y. Ng recommends a classic Cantonese opera

Cantonese opera is a traditional art form that originated in Guangdong Province, including Hong Kong and Macau. It differs from other forms of Chinese opera mainly in the language used, namely Cantonese. Compared to other Chinese theatre genres, such as Peking opera and its sibling Kunqu opera, Cantonese opera typically features fewer elaborate acrobatic and dance elements, while putting a stronger emphasis on scores and lyrics. The 1950s and 60s were the heyday of Cantonese opera, as the massive influx of immigrants from China provided both a new audience and an ample supply of creative talent.

Legend of the Purple Hairpin by playwright Tang Ti-sheng is one of the best known and most performed Cantonese operas ever written.