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«Initial coordinating by Gwendoline Kam Cho-ning 前期統籌:金佐寧 General English editing by Heather Diamond 英文審校: Heather Diamond ...»

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The Legend of Purple Hairpin


Libretti by Tong Dik Sang



This Translation


WONG Chuen-fung 黃泉鋒


Research proposal by Yu Siu Wah


Initial coordinating by Gwendoline Kam Cho-ning


General English editing by Heather Diamond

英文審校: Heather Diamond

Final Proofreading by Yu Siu Wah


Cantonese Opera Libretti Translation Project

香港粵劇劇本研究、整理及翻譯計劃 Department of Music, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學音樂系 Funded by the Cantonese Opera Development Fund 粤劇發展基金資助 1


A Cantonese Opera by Tong Dik Sang Translated by Wong Chuen Fung Cast of Characters (in order of appearance) Wun Sa maid of Fok Siu Yuk Fok Siu Yuk princess of Luoyang, daughter of Prince Fok, a.k.a. Siu Yuk Lei Yik styled Gwan Yu, a.k.a. Sap Long (lit., the tenth son), a talented scholar from an eminent family in Longxi Chui Wan Ming acquaintance of Lei Yik; a poor, old scholar with an unsuccessful career Wai Ha Hing acquaintance of Lei Yik; a young scholar, a.k.a. Ha Hing Marshal Lou Grand Marshal of the military; father of Lou Yin Jing Lou Yin Jing daughter of Marshal Lou Wong Saau Yi attendant to Marshal Lou Madam Fok mother of Fok Siu Yuk Lau Gung Jai governor of Yangguan Pass Hau Ging Sin jewelry dealer and craftsman, a.k.a. Ging Sin Third Lady Bao sister of Fourth Lady Bao, a matchmaker Fellow in Yellow Fourth Prince disguised, to inspect the town in secret Master Mo Seung Buddhist master of Ci’en Temple ACT 1 Wun Sa: (enters first and speaks) Lady, come on, hurry up!

Siu Yuk: (enters and, deep in thought, recites) The curtains were opened; the wind moved the bamboo.

An old acquaintance has come, I suspect.

The curtains were opened; the wind moved the bamboo.

An old acquaintance has come, I suspect.

(sings) Line after line, this new poem reads like lovers’ words.

Year after year, I regret, the moon and lanterns reveal my loneliness, and my flowery years that have vainly faded.

Where to find my dream lover?

When I first put on the purple hairpin, My pink face blushed with sunset r

–  –  –

(Sings) Only because this year’s moon and lanterns aren’t the same as last year's?

Don't blame me for saying outright what’s on your mind.

Siu Yuk: (embarrassingly, speaks) Wun Sa.

Wun Sa: (speaks) Don’t speak too much. The night has fallen. If kismet is with you, you’ll definitely meet him tonight under the beautiful moon. Let’s go!

Siu Yuk: (sings) Should a joined branch between two trees break into two, Let Cowherd and Weaving Maiden sail across the galaxy with a wooden raft.

(Enter Lei Yik, Chui Wan Ming, and Wai Ha Hing) Lei Yik: (sings) With books and swords, I’m stuck in the capital.

Along the streets, there’re recruitment notices and imperial announcements.

Drifting aimlessly is a waste of my talents.

–  –  –

Wan Ming: (speaks) Sap Long, lanterns are the same every year. Why care for another look?

Lei Yik: (speaks) I’m here tonight not for the lanterns, but for a beauty.

Wan Ming and Ha Hing: (speaks) For a beauty?

Lei Yik: (laughs and speaks) Let me tell you,

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (shakes his head and sighs with regret, speaks) I desire to find the fragrance, yet I don’t know where her residence is.

Wan Ming: (laughs) How are you going to find her if you don’t know where she lives?

Lei Yik: (speaks) Now I recall Fourth Lady Bao once said that Siu Yuk likes to wear purple dresses. Let’s pay special attention to women wearing purple dresses while the lanterns are bright tonight.

–  –  –

(Lei Yik and Ha Hing hide behind a door; Wan Ming hides behind a tree.) Marshal Lou: (sings) The red mansion stirs the rosy clouds.

I accompany the carriage myself hurrying the horses in the city.

Who cares the hooves shatter the flowers.

The wind sweeps the trees at the first watch.

(Sound effects of wind blowing) Yin Jing: (speaks) Slow down! Slow Down! Where did the strong wind come from? It blew away my crimson veil. (Looks around.) (Seeing the veil land on his face, Lei Yik picks it up embarrassingly, returns it to the carriage.)

–  –  –

Yin Jing: (charmed by Lei Yik’s disposition, Yin Jing receives the veil shyly and speaks) Young scholar, your manner is extraordinary; your eloquence is refined. May I ask for your esteemed name? Let me write it down on this thin veil.

–  –  –

Marshal Lou: (sees Lei Yik leaving and speaks) What a handsome and talented young scholar!

Yin Jing: (disappointedly speaks) Father, the wind brought him this colorful veil; it must be destiny.

(Embarrassingly) From now on, I won’t have other partners; he’s the only one.

Marshal Lou: (laughs and speaks) I don't even know his name, how can I match you two?

–  –  –

Marshal Lou: (enraged and speaks) Hey, I only asked for the name of the young scholar, and am not interested in making acquaintance with you. Tell me his name immediately.

–  –  –

Wong Saau Yi: (speaks) Will do.

Marshal Lou: (speaks) Terrace and pavilion that are close to water get to see the moon first.

The talented Xiao Shi does not need to worry about not having a home.

Flowers and trees that face the sun get to meet spring first;

Let’s wait and see how Lei Yik’s talent will surprise the world.

–  –  –

Wan Ming: (seeing the departure of Marshal Lou, mutters under the tree) He asked so many questions and left without thanking me. It’s not uncommon for the mood of these powerful people to change all the time. I’m not surprised.

Lei Yik and Ha Hing: (enter and run forth to Wan Ming, speak) Brother Wan Ming! Brother Wan Ming!

Lei Yik: (speaks) Brother Wan Ming, why are you alone muttering?

Wan Ming: (speaks) Gwan Yu, Ha Hing, For the past thirty years my civil career has led me to nowhere. Yet I’m quite sure I’ll pass the exam this time. The white-hair official is the incumbent marshal. The esteemed marshal chatted with me. Now my career is bound to be different.

–  –  –

Ha Hing: (pointing at a woman, speaks) Gwan Yu, look, there’s a woman dressed in purple over there.

(Three of them look in the same direction.) Wan Ming: (stares and speaks) Wow, she's even bigger than me.

Lei Yik: (smirks and speaks) Those who wear white aren’t necessarily the Bodhisattva.

Likewise, the one who wears purple isn’t necessarily Siu Yuk. How could a talented lady not have good look?

Wan Ming: (suddenly elated, speaks) Sap Long, the good-looking one is over there.

–  –  –

(Enter Siu Yuk and Wun Sa.) Lei Yik: (obsessed by the beauty and speaks) Ah!

(Siu Yuk feels that she is being watched. She walks faster and bumps into something.)

–  –  –

Wan Ming: (speaks) Gwan Yu, stay for a while to find out if it’s Fok Siu Yuk who dropped the hairpin. Ha Hing and I will go elsewhere for a quick walk now and meet you back.

–  –  –

(Lei Yik fondles the hairpin admiringly.) (Wun Sa enters with a lantern in hand.) (Lei Yik notices that it's not Siu Yuk and hides the hairpin.) Wun Sa: (looks for the hairpin with a lantern in her hand, bumps into Lei Yik, speaks) Ouch! Sir, may I ask if you have seen a purple hairpin on the ground?

Lei Yik: (pretending to be stunned, speaks) Purple hairpin? What does it look like?

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (playfully, speaks) Oh! Oh! Now I remember. Just a moment ago in the alley, I vaguely heard some noise. It must be someone who found the hairpin.

Wun Sa: (anxiously asks) Sir, which alley?

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (awestruck by Siu Yuk’s beauty when looking at her up-close, speaks) Aha!

(Upon hearing and seeing Lei Yik, Siu Yuk covers her face with sleeves. She lowers her head, and tries to turn back on him.)

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (speaks) Madam, look at what I’m holding here. Is it the purple hairpin?

(Siu Yuk turns around and sees the hairpin. Amazed, she wants to take it but is embarrassed.) Wun Sa: (holding a lantern, runs towards the hairpin and gasps, speaks) Hey, you apparently had the hairpin in your hands, but lied and said it’s in the alley. You made me run around exhaustingly. It seems that you, a poor scholar, wanted to use the hairpin to reap some benefits. Stand aside!

–  –  –

Wun Sa: (speaks) Scholar, hand me back the hairpin!

Lei Yik: (speaks) Hairpin? It’s not yours! It belongs to your lady.

Could you please tell me the elegant name of your lady?

Wun Sa: (speaks) Daughter of Prince Fok, she’s the princess of Luoyang.

–  –  –

Siu Yuk: (speaks softly) Wun Sa, there’s no harm in asking.

Wun Sa: (speaks) There’s no harm in asking? Alright, Scholar, tell us your name.

–  –  –

(sings) The person who found the hairpin is Lei the Sap Long.

This hairpin is fortunate enough to fall before such a talented person.

Wun Sa: (speaks) Lady, good fortune or not, we need to get this hairpin back.

Siu Yuk: (speaks) Wun Sa, I’ll take care of this hairpin myself.

Wun Sa: (speaks) Alright then, lady will take care of this. (Chuckles.) It looks like you don’t need me to serve you now. (Chuckles.) Lei Yik: (speaks) Madam.

Siu Yuk: (sings) My blushed face in half hidden; my red veil pulled.

Petals fly, filling the red sky at dawn.

The one who picked the hairpin meets a tragic lady.

Yet hairpin has become worthless, like the prices in Luoyang.

The flying petals and the flowers have disgraced your elegance.

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (sings) We’re made for each other; really made for each other.

Let me borrow this hairpin as a matchmaker.

I’m disposed to bend my knee in front of your pomegranate dress, And send this hairpin as a token gift for my marriage.

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (sings) Please don’t let my talent slip away.

I’ve experienced much hardship, and haven’t married yet.

I admire that your talent was once top of the town in Hengyang.

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (sings) Don’t say you’re like an unwanted flower.

One day you’ll be looked upon because of your husband’s fame, And speak to raise people’s eyebrows.

–  –  –

Siu Yuk: (sings) I have to serve my mother at home. How can I get married so easily?

(Smiles shyly; covering her face, Siu Yuk steps inside the house and looks back at Lei Yik before turning away from him completely.) Lei Yik: (stunned and speechless, staring at the door and drawing a long breath) (sings) The graceful moon is hidden behind a heavy door.

How can I ask the goddess of the moon to return to the rows of willows?

I’ll find a good matchmaker after I return the hairpin to you.

Yet in such a short time it’s hard to gather enough money for wedding.

–  –  –

Wan Ming: (sees Lei Yik and speaks) Gwan Yu, you found the beauty and returned the hairpin. Is it love on a crush? Or is it just a trick on the hairpin?

Lei Yik: (speaks) Brother Wan Ming, the flower of Luoyang is both fragrant and enticing.

The man of Longxi should therefore live a harmonious family life.

Wan Ming: (speaks) Wonderful, Gwan Yu! It’s your will to protect the flower. But do you know how flowers should be nurtured? A husband treats fidelity and integrity as the foundation of his career; a wife treats chastity as her lifelong honor. If you owe someone a dollar, the debt won’t end until you pay it back. If you owe someone a life, you’ll never feel relieved until you pay your debt of love. If you understand it, you will win the beautiful lady. But if you don’t, then …

–  –  –

Wan Ming: (speaks) Stop before it’s too late.

Lei Yik: (speaks) Brother Wan Ming, I understand it thoroughly. Otherwise, I wouldn’t think of choosing a good matchmaker for this marriage.

Wan Ming: (speaks) Gwan Yu, if you understand it thoroughly, why hire a matchmaker?

–  –  –

Lei Yik: (hesitantly, speaks) Brother Wan Ming, look, the door is heavily locked.

Wan Ming: (teases) Hey, perhaps it’s a deception. Just come forward and try to open it.

Lei Yik: (pushes the door open yet feels embarrassed and speaks) Brother Wan Ming, I’m only worried that it’s too late and she’s already slept.

Wan Ming: (speaks) What a fool!

I’m sure she’s now standing by the red curtain peeking! Gwan Yu, go!

(Lei Yik enters the house while Wan Ming teases and exits.)

–  –  –

Madam Fok: (speaks) Sap Long, you’re already here. Just stay calm. Why are you so hesitant?

Lei Yik: (speaks) Well, I feel awkward. (Embarrassed, courageously, greets Madam Fok) Lei Gwan Yu salutes Madam Fok.

Madam Fok: (speaks) Sap Long.

Is it because it’s too late at night and you can’t find a good matchmaker so that you come to propose a marriage?

–  –  –

Madam Fok: (speaks) This isn’t necessary.

(Sings) My little girl doesn’t deserve such money.

Matching couples in the marriage is all about talents.

The mother and the daughter have been deprived, And abandoned to stay in the old lord’s house.

I hope to acquire a good son-in-law, In order to honor our family and gain good reputation.

–  –  –

Madam Fok: (speaks) That’s good.

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