All posts tagged: Cantonese opera

Havana Divas in full stage costume | Where My Heart Leads

Unexpected Encounters: Havana Divas and Chinese diaspora

Little did I know, that I was in for a treat with the Havana Divas that evening. I probably was not the only one with question marks over my head when we saw two westerners, age 80+ singing and performing Cantonese Opera complete with gestural expressions. You see, unlike Italian Opera, which is relatively ‘mainstream’, Cantonese Opera is a rare specimen that I had believed only existed in my part of the world. As Cantonese Chinese myself, I had not watched even one performance before that night. They were impressive – not only because of the authenticity of their performance, which was surprisingly true to the art. (The way they pronounced the words, and the way they sung, you feel they were bringing through customs of a different era.) But their story offers a window into the Chinese histories of diaspora. Caridad Ho age 87 and Georgina Wong age 89 hail from Cuba, halfway around the globe and are living links to another era.  Their expressive and genuine ballads enraptured the audience. After a moving performance, the two …

Longevity Reed | Where My Heart Leads

Secret to Longevity (That Everyone Has)

Prologue A wave of confusion swept over me when the female lead came on stage. Obviously she was a foreigner, so how in the world did she learn, or why did she even learn to sing old-school Cantonese Opera of all things? From the looks of it: back a little stooped and her small shuffling footsteps, she was probably in her 70s or 80s even? Soon after, the ‘male’ lead comes on stage – with a crutch in her right hand!  I was at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, at one of its Cantonese Opera evenings entitled, “Global Traces, Local Stages.”  What started it all Pre-show, a friend and I got dinner at the quintessential old-school diner Mido Cafe. Over Hong Kong curry rice, I was venting (just ever-so slightly) about the challenges of starting and running my business.  My friend generously shared her experience twenty years ago helping set up her husband’s business. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but twenty years later, her husband now jokes, “Would you still have wanted me to have taken …