BEIJING opera is first and foremost a spectacle: glittering costumes, improbable acrobatics, raucous percussion, dainty ladies-in-waiting, fierce generals, witty vernacular dialogue and, of course, beautiful singing of Chinese poetry. Something, simultaneously, for everyone. While the programme notes provide the bare bones of the stories, language is no barrier to enjoying the spectacle. Bald-headed afficianados who know exactly when to blurt out loud guttural shouts of approval are no less delighted with the young talent from the Beijing Opera School Juvenile Beijng Opera Troupe loyally carrying on the tradition of a unique art form than are the amateur enthusiasts in the audience who gave the performers a standing ovation at City Hall on Sunday night. Opening this programme was nine-year-old Wei Xuelei, whose adorable solo portrayal of Nazha from Buddhist folk tradition was a spellbinding mixture of martial arts, dialogue and singing. Pouch with an Embroidered Unicorn is a simple moral tale - with poignant relevance for Hong Kong - on the inadvisability of snobbery. Woven around two families whose fortunes are reversed, this opera is, almost in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, replete with comedy, tragedy, social comment and the ubiquitous happy ending. It is also an ideal vehicle for the young artists to shine in their specialties. The powerful and mature voice of 16-year-old Guo Wei, who displayed an impressive mastery of the complex technique of Beijing operas for her age, and the exquisite mischievousness of 12-year-old Li Sa, were the highlights of this large production. This was a unique opportunity to see the next generation of Beijing opera stars, some of whom will be instantly recognised for their roles in Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine - at the beginning of their careers in the troupe's first appearance in the Hong Kong Arts Festival.