Cantonese opera queen Hung dies

Cantonese opera queen Hung dies
Hung Sin Nui during a visit to Singapore in 2000 (left); when she was here in 1980 to perform (above) and called upon former president Ong Teng Cheong, then Minister for communications, who said he used to watch her movies when he was a small boy; and in an undated publicity shot (right).

HONG KONG - Cantonese opera queen Hung Sin Nui, who was celebrated for her matchless tone - sweet, crisp, smooth, coquettish - died in Guangzhou on Sunday.

She was 89, said Ming Pao Daily News yesterday. The Guangdong Cantonese Opera Academy announced her death on Weibo on Sunday at 11pm, said the report. She had died of a heart attack.

Hung, whose name in Mandarin is Hong Xiannu, felt unwell during dinner on Sunday, said the academy's publicity director. She was sent to hospital, where she died at 8.40pm.

Hailed as a national treasure, she acted in nearly 100 operas and more than 90 films, said news website NetEase.

She was renowned for developing her Hung style of singing, which absorbed the techniques of Peking opera, kunqu and Western opera, said Ming Pao. Her renditions of Ode To The Lychee, Praise To The Pearl River and Lady Zhaojun are revered as classics.

About a week ago, she sang Ode To The Lychee at a banquet of the Guangzhou Cantonese Opera Troupe, said NetEase.

She was born Kuang Jianlian in Kaiping, Guangdong province.

Her maternal grandfather, uncle and aunt were Cantonese opera singers, and she grew up on Cantonese opera, said reports.

In 1937, when the Japanese bombed Guangzhou, her father became bankrupt and her mother took her to Hong Kong despite his objections. There, she started studying Cantonese opera under her aunt's tutelage in her teens.

She joined Cantonese opera master Ma Sze Tsang's troupe, married him and her star rose in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, said reports.

After World War II, she studied Peking opera for three years in Hong Kong, where she also picked up other singing techniques and film acting.

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