Film Archive to screen Cantonese opera films of Cecilia Lee Fung-sing in support of Cantonese Opera Day 2016 (with photos)

     In support of Cantonese Opera Day 2016, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will present "Cecilia Lee Fung-sing's Legendary Rise to Opera Stardom". The programme will screen four films featuring Cecilia Lee Fung-sing for film buffs to revisit the charms of Lee as a wenwusheng (principal male role performer).

     After entering the film industry with the professional name Lee Heung-ying, Lee adopted the stage name Cecilia Lee Fung-sing in 1961 and shot to stardom with her screen persona as a wenwusheng. Mentored by Lee Bo-lun, Lee also learned the Northern School of acrobatics and Cantonese opera vocal skills from different masters. Distinguished by her tall stature and handsome countenance with gifted singing prowess in pinghou (male voice), Lee took to the role of wenwusheng like a natural, blazing a path of excellence. In 1966, she founded her self-named Cantonese opera troupe and partnered with Ng Sau-fong, a famed huadan (young female role performer), to perform in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Lee later moved to Australia and established Lee Yuen Chinese Opera in 1996 to promote Cantonese operatic arts and nurture talents. The 83-year-old remains dedicated to charitable appearances in Cantonese opera performances and concerts.

     The film screenings at the HKFA Cinema are "The Ambitious Prince" (1965) on November 25, "Sister Yeung" (1963) and "Operation Woods" (1964) on November 26, and "Teaching the Son to Slay the Emperor" (1967) on November 27. These films will also be shown on December 22, 23, 29 and 30 respectively at the Auditorium of North District Town Hall. In addition, a seminar entitled "The Bittersweetness of Cecilia Lee Fung-sing's Operatic Life" will be hosted by Lee on November 26 at 4pm at the HKFA Cinema. It will be conducted in Cantonese with free admission.

     "The Ambitious Prince" tells of the Crown Prince Kam Lun (Lee in a cross-dressing role) falling in love with Princess Hundred Flowers (Ng Kwan-lai). A spell of madness is cast on the princess, and the prince is forced to trade his heart for her cure but then becomes a callous tyrant. The film also contains a dazzling array of stagecraft of the Northern School of martial arts, including "picking the helmet", "taking off the armour" and "snatching the flag".

     "Sister Yeung" features the story of King Yan of Song and his brother Lord Yin, performed with cross-dressing by Lee and Tang Bik-wan respectively, both falling head over heels for Eighth Sister Yeung (Fung Wong Nui) and thus causing a series of incidents. The climactic scene in which Sister Yeung counsels the king in battle sets the perfect stage for Lee to showcase her operatic talents such as "leg-swirling somersault", "hair-swirling acts" and "turning the body on one leg". Not to be outshone by Lee, Fung Wong Nui and Leung Siu-chung, the "Somersault King", pull off one stunning move after another in the "spying the enemy barracks" scene.

     Starring an all-female cast, "Operation Woods" commences with spectacular sparring between Jin general Fu Siu-fung (Lee in a cross-dressing role) who is clad in dakou (costumes for battle warriors in Cantonese opera) and a chieftain (Chu Sau-ying in a cross-dressing role). The story follows a barbaric tribe's imminent invasion of Jin. The chieftain threatens to massacre the capital unless Princess Dan-fung (Fung Wong Nui) agrees to marry him.

     In "Teaching the Son to Slay the Emperor", Lee cross-dresses as the king of Wei, Cho Sai-cheong, who invades the kingdom of Shu. While the king of Shu, Lau Chen-kei (Tang Bik-wan in a cross-dressing role), indulges in debauchery, his wife Cuckoo (Yu Lai-zhen) has to lead the troops to the front. Captured after giving birth to her son Yuk (Fung Bo-bo in a cross-dressing role) on the battlefield, Cuckoo accepts to be Cho's consort to protect Yuk. Later, when Cho discovers the reunion of Lau and Cuckoo, he makes Yuk kill his own father.

     All films are in Cantonese without subtitles.

     Tickets priced at $45 are now available at URBTIX ( For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999. For programme details, please visit, or call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900.

Ends/Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:00