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Cantonese opera is one of the major traditional Chinese opera, originating from Guangdong province and popularized in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau and among the Chinese community in Southeast Asia.

Ling Long Troupe, a local Cantonese troupe in Hong Kong, is composed with three generations of actors and actresses in a family, with Leung Shui Sham and Man Chin Shui as the first generation of the troupe, Tang Mi Ling as the second generation and Yu Pui Yung the third.

First Generation

Man Chin Shui and Leung Shui Shum are actors in Ling Long Cantonese opera group in Hong Kong. As the first generation in this big opera family, they have worked in this field for about 60 years.

Both of them grew up in a Cantonese Opera environment. They knew each other in this field and started dating. They have been partners for a long time, and acted in many romantic operas, and then, it became real. They got married afterwards.

“We are old partners, sisters and brothers, and it has been many years,” said Man Chin Shui.

Recent years, they gradually left the stage and became teachers of young generations. With their support, there have been three generations in Ling Long Cantonese Opera Group. They are not only the most senior members in this team, but also strict teachers to pass down opera skills and spirits to their children.

We hope that in our lifetime, we could take our responsibility to teach students or people who are interested in Cantonese Opera what we know.  

-Leung Shui Shum.

As the first generation, they take the responsibility for inheriting Cantonese Opera and traditional culture in Hong Kong to the next generation. Exactly because of the persistence of those senior artists, traditions like Chinese Opera can be passed down to young generations in modern Hong Kong and filled with vitality of young lives.

Second Generation

Deng Mei-Lin is the second generation of her Cantonese Opera family. She had been interested in Cantonese Opera since childhood and took it as a hobby at the very first place. Now she is one of the leading actresses in this traditional Chinese culture.

Back to her school age days, she wasn’t brave enough to tell people that she loved Cantonese Opera and her family doing this traditional Culture. She was afraid of others of her generation saying that she liked such as old-fashioned thing. However, she wasn’t afraid of telling people, but unwilling to be open about this.

Cantonese Opera was popular when Deng Mei-Lin was young. But it started to go down when she started learning this performing art. She said some Cantonese Opera actors were working at other fields like acting in television and movie. She was just planning to act as a freelancer to maintain her hobby. It turns out that she had more performances. So eventually, she became a full-time actor.

Mei-lin also talked about her daughter who is also a full time Cantonese Opera actor now. She remembered when she was watching Cantonese Opera at night, Mei-er, her daughter would gave her a facial expression acting like she doesn’t like Cantonese Opera. But things changed when one day she was at school and her primary school teacher asked who knows how to sing Cantonese Opera. She raised her hands up. She believed the surrounding environment influenced her daughter even she never learned.

As the first generation, they take the responsibility for inheriting Cantonese Opera and traditional culture in Hong Kong to the next generation. Exactly because of the persistence of those senior artists, traditions like Chinese Opera can be passed down to young generations in modern Hong Kong and filled with vitality of young lives.

Mei-lin sees Cantonese Opera as her interest for life. She doesn’t think this kind of art would die out at her generation.

People reached the age when they have enough material, knowledge and time, they would purchase a ticket and enjoy the culture and art from Cantonese Opera. That’s one reason that Mei-lin is optimistic about the future. In recent years, the government was also supporting the younger generations. She had great hope on those talents of the young generation.

Third Generation

Yu Pui Yung, also named Sum Yung, is the third generation of the Linglong Cantonese Opera Group.

Yu was born in a family where most of the relatives of her mother’s family have been contributing to Cantonese opera field for many years, some of whom are actors and others are backstage workers.

Influenced by her families, the little girl could sing Cantonese Opera after lisrening to it several times. When Yu was in primary school grade three, she started learning Cantonese Opera in the Opera school her aunt and uncle opened.

When she was at school, she joined some school concerts as a Cantonese Opera actor and introduced Cantonese Opera to students, parents and friends.

Yu said “Maybe because they think that this person who sings Cantonese Opera is someone I know, they will pay more attentions.”

The young lady got a bachelor degree of fashion retailing in the Institute of Textiles and Clothing from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2014. Now, she is practicing and performing as an Opera actress in Linglong Cantonese Opera Group.

On her shoulders, the honorable and significant duty to inherit the family culture always inspires her to move forwards.

There are pressures from the family, but I still wanted to continue the Cantonese Opera tradition from my family
-Yu Pui Yung

Behind the Scene

What is Cantonese Opera?
Cantonese Opera is one of the traditional Chinese operas. According to the Heritage Museum, Cantonese opera was performed on the theatrical stage in temples or in temporary bamboo shed theaters in the early days. Cantonese Opera involves several art elements including singing, music, acting and martial arts. 
What is unique about Cantonese Opera?
The makeup in Cantonese Opera reflects Chinese history and traditions. With mostly a white and red foundation applied to the entire face. The makeup various depends on the character role and personality. They also have colorful costume, usually consists of multiple layers. Most costumes have water sleeves, tend to be long and baggy. 
Where to watch Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong?
There are multiple venues in Hong Kong that offer regular Chinese Opera performances including Ko Shan Theatre and New Wing, Yau Ma Tei Theatre and Sunbeam Theatre.
Where to learn more about this particular Cantonese Opera group?
Deng Mei-Lin has her own Facebook page where she posted her recent performances. Check this out! 
Who created this webpage?
We are a group of journalism students from the University of Hong Kong. This section about Cantonese Opera is created by Katy Wong, Lio Hui, Wang Keyi, Wei Shuhang and Wu Xiaoxi. With many help from our professor, teacher assistant, and classmates from the Digital Journalism Class.