Looking for the Lost Purple Hairpin

The Purple Hairpin

Pui Jun-Hin & Vera Ma

This popular opera written by Hong Kong’s famous Cantonese opera playwright and librettist Tong Dik-Seng ( 唐滌生) is based on a classical play called The Story of the Purple Hairpin by the well-known playwright Tang Xianzhu (湯顯祖)of the Ming Dynasty. It depicts the steadfast love between Fok Siu-Yuk(霍小玉), a talented lady well-versed in music and poetry, and Lee Yick(李益), a scholar from a western province whose reputation precedes him. “Looking for the Lost Purple Hairpin”, the first of many well-loved songs in this opera, is about their first encounter brought about because Siu-Yuk’s lost purple hairpin is accidentally found by Lee Yick who has come to the capital to sit the Civil Exam.
Wong Chiu-Kwan |
  王超群, M.H.

In the mid-1960s, Wong Chiu-Kwan learned the art of acting from Master Tam San-San, who excelled in playing the role of the female lead in Cantonese opera. She studied “cheung hong” from Master Lau Wing-Chuen. In the 1980s she performed throughout South East Asia, and became a leading female artist in Cantonese opera after she returned to Hong Kong in the nineties. She is famous for playing female military roles, especially as the general on bound feet. Over the years she has partnered with many leading male artists, including Man Chi- Sui, Yuen Siu-Fai, Lo Ka-Ying, Ng Chin-Fung, Lung Kwun-Tin, Lee Lung, among others in forming various Cantonese Opera Troupes.

Apart from being famous for her mastery of the art of performing on bound feet, she is also recognized for her contributions in promoting Cantonese opera education and community work. In 2010 she was honoured as The Artist of the Year (Opera) by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and awarded a certificate by the Home Affairs Bureau; in 2018 she was appointed as the Artistic Director of the Cantonese Opera Rookies’ Performance Series hosted by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong.

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