By Chen Yu, Zhang Yongxing
HOUSTON, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- A concert of Huangmei opera and Hui opera debuted Friday night in Houston, feasting overseas Chinese and locals in the fourth largest U.S. city with colorful traditional Chinese performing arts.
The concert, which was on a 10-day, five-city U.S. tour in celebration of the Chinese lunar new year, featured the most famous pieces of the Huangmei opera and Hui opera, including Emperor's Female Son-In-Law, Drowning Of Seven Armies and The Fairy Couple.
The 1,000-plus audience at Stanford Performing Arts Center in Houston were charmed by the performance by top-tier artists from Anhui Huangmei Opera Theater and Anhui Hui Opera & Peking Opera Theater. Among them were six winners of The Plum Blossom Prize, the highest theatrical award in China.
Wu Qiong, one of China's most acclaimed Huangmei opera artists, brought a warmly-applauded ending to the about-two-hour show, with a performance combining classical Huangmei pieces and modern Chinese songs and dances.
Both Huangmei opera and Hui opera are operatic styles rooted in east China's Anhui province. Huangmei opera originated as a form of rural folksong and dance that has been in existence for the last two centuries.
Hui opera, also one of the most ancient operas in China, is the predecessor of China's cultural treasure, the Peking opera.
To overseas Chinese, the show revived their memory of the Chinese lunar new year back in China, where opera-watching is one of the most popular new year celebrations. To locals like David Coleman, it opened a gate for them to see into the rich Chinese traditional arts.
As a Chinese culture-lover, Coleman said he was enchanted by the beautiful costumes, the make-up and expressive acts of the performers, though he knew little about the plots of those plays, because most of them are adaptions from Chinese folk stories or history.
Coleman's favorite part of the show is Drowning of Seven Armies, based on classic Chinese novel, The Three Kingdoms. "I know one figure in Drowning of Seven Armies, Guan Yu," he said. "I have a statue of Guan Yu in my office."
In Drowning of Seven Armies, Guan Yu, a reputed general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China, drowned seven enemy armies in a battle.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and U.S. Congressman Al Green warmly welcomed the Huangmei opera and Hui opera, which were visiting the United States for the third time and Houston for the first time.
"The event welcomes more than 20 renowned performers from China and promotes cultural exchanges between the U.S. and China," Parker said in a congratulatory letter to the concert, which was organized by the Anhui provincial government and co-organized by local Chinese groups including the Chinese Association of Professionals in Science and Technology and the Anhui Association of Texas.
"Houston is a city of rich cultural diversity, and the many international groups that share their culture with Houstonians enhance their quality of our lives," she said.
The mayor proclaimed Feb. 15, 2013 as the "Huangmei Opera and Hui Opera Day."
The Huangmei opera and Hui opera concert "brings excellent Chinese arts" to overseas Chinese and greatly enriches their lives during the Chinese new year, said Xu Erwen, Chinese Consul General in Houston.
The show also serves as an important platform to showcase China's brilliant culture and will help promote cultural exchange between China and the United States, Xu said.
The concert, which already toured New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, will also be staged in Miami.