This two-part musical event brings together Cantonese opera performer Mitche Choi (Chin Shan) and Indian classical singer Rutuja Lad. The performance explores how artists interpret performative cross-dressing within the history of ambiguous and fluid gender identity in India and China. It is co-organised by Asia Art Archive and the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University.
In the first part, Mitche Choi performs three songs: “The Dream Encounter at Lake Tai,” a theme song from an opera based on the legend of renowned beauty Xi Shi; “A Wanderer’s Autumn Grief,” a Cantonese operatic song from the Qing Dynasty; and “Revisiting the Willow Pavilion,” popularised by the early-twentieth-century songstress Xu Liuxian.
In the second part, Rutuja Lad presents famous songs by Bal Gandharva (1888–1967), a male actor and singer known for playing major female roles in early twentieth-century musical theatre in the Marathi language. Lad’s performance includes selections from the legendary plays Shakuntal (The Story of Shakuntala, 1880), Manapmaan (Pride and Insult, 1911), Swayamvar (The Ritual of a Bride Choosing her Groom, 1916), and Sant Kanhopatra (Saint Kanhopatra, 1931).
The performance is followed by a conversation on gender, music, and performance, led by cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha, with Li Siu Leung and Yu Siu Wah, two leading scholars on Chinese music and opera.
The event also includes the screening of two videos that are sources of inspiration for artist Ming Wong’s current science fiction Cantonese opera project—which explores travel across time, space, and gender—as well as an excerpt from Raja Harishchandra (1917), the earliest surviving fiction film from India.
Staging Gender arises out of an ongoing collaboration between Asia Art Archive and the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University. It is part of AAA’s research on histories of performance art, women in art history, and complex geographies. It also highlights the Department of Cultural Studies’ commitment to research in the area, from courses on gender, sexuality, and performance studies, to projects such as Saath-Saath: Music Across the Waters.
Mitche Choi (Chin Shan), Cantonese opera
Rutuja Lad, Marathi musical drama
Chen Yi Fan, Jorge Ramiro Monroy, Mai Jia Wei, Sachin Olkar, Siu Wing Chi Pamela, and Suen Tik Fei
Li Siu Leung and Yu Siu Wah
Free and open to the public with registration.
Mitche Choi (Chin Shan) is the apprentice of renowned Cantonese Opera performers Man Chin Sui and Leung Siu Sum. First exposed to Cantonese Opera at the age of twelve, she has participated in shows in Hong Kong, Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Singapore. She graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) with a degree in Cantonese Opera in 2017. She is currently a member of the Young Academy Cantonese Opera Troupe at HKAPA.
Rutuja Lad was introduced to music at the age of five by her parents. She received initial training from Guruvarya Shri Bhalchandra Patre. She has since been trained in the famous school of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana under Pandita Dhondutai Kulkarni and Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande. She has performed in major musical events in various cities in India, as well as in Hong Kong and Shanghai, as part of previous editions of the Saath-Saath project curated by Tejaswini Niranjana.
This event is supported by the Kwan Fong Centre for Cultural Research and Development Programme, Lingnan University. We thank Maharashtra Mandal in Hong Kong and Mugdha Karanjekar for their support and contribution.