A premier performing arts venue dedicated to promoting and celebrating the art form and rich heritage of xiqu, or Chinese opera. The building design itself is a marvel on its own, inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns where the main entrance is shaped to resemble parted stage curtains.
If taking in a unique arts performance while enjoying Chinese tea culture sounds like a treat to you, head to the newly built Xiqu Centre for an experience to remember. Part of the West Kowloon Cultural District, this stunning venue is an ode to traditional Chinese opera, housing a Grand Theatre, eight professional studios, a seminar hall, and our personal favourite – the Tea House Theatre. The intimate space is an elegant take on traditional Chinese theatres, where visitors can enjoy Cantonese opera performances in a variety of vocal and musical styles.
As one of the oldest dramatic arts in the world, xiqu, or Chinese opera, is an instantly recognisable facet of Chinese culture. But it’s not all dramatic makeup and elaborate robes – xiqu comprises music, acting, martial arts and acrobatics. Productions can be based on anything from folklore, history, literature, mythology and even famous Western plays.
If you’re interested in learning more about Chinese opera, you can be among the first to check out the Xiqu Centre’s introductory Tea House Theatre performance, which launches on January 23. Performed by the theatre’s very own Rising Stars Troupe – a group of bright young talent under the direction of veteran Cantonese opera master Dr Law ka-ying – the 90-minute cultural experience is available Wednesdays to Sundays and is priced at $318 or $368 per person, inclusive of tea and dim sum to go with the show. If you don’t understand Cantonese, don’t worry – not only will there be English and Chinese surtitles, but an expert moderator will also be on-hand to explain the history and conventions of this art form. Besides the fact that Chinese opera is a far cry from the upper-crust connotations of its Western cousin, the programme is designed to be an informative introduction to the art form, which means you can still enjoy it, even if you don’t know anything about xiqu at all.
Aside from this introductory experience, if you want to know more about some of the quirkier customs of this art form – like why performers greet each other with “good morning” regardless of the time – be sure to check out the Xiqu Centre’s hour-long guided tours ($100 per person or $50 with valid HKID card). Available in Cantonese, English or Mandarin on Tuesdays and weekends, the tours touch on the venue’s architectural and design features, as well as little-known facts about Chinese opera’s long history and behind-the-scenes xiqu stories. It’s bound to be an eye-opening experience for those who want to discover more about this unique cultural tradition. Annette Chan