Chinese opera aficionados can choose from seven performances at this year's Hong Kong Arts Festival. The all-women Shanghai Yueju Opera Theatre, considered the best yue opera troupe on the mainland, will be putting on four performances featuring a variety of popular excerpts, while the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe will perform, for one night only, their acclaimed opera, The Disinterested Governor Yu Chenglong. There will also be two evenings of excerpts from the most eminent Beijing opera troupes on the mainland, which will provide a taste of the diversity of Beijing opera. The performances by the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theatre contain a selection of popular repertoire among yue opera enthusiasts, including A Dream of Red Mansions, Romance of West Chamber and Love with a Fairy Carp. Operas such as A Dream of Red Mansions and Romance of West Chamber offer a good introduction to yue opera. A Dream of Red Mansions is a masterpiece of Chinese literature, depicting the typically decadent Chinese aristocracy under the rule of the Qing emperors during the 18th century. Many films and plays have been inspired by the tragic love story of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, who were separated as a result of the hypocrisy and cruelty of the feudal system. The libretto of the yue opera was based on the novel, starting with the arrival with Lin Daiyu and ending with her death. There are two adaptations of the opera, according to Shanghai-based Li Li, director of the Shanghai Yueju Opera. The performance prepared for the Arts Festival is the original version staged by the Shanghai Yueju Opera in Hong Kong in the 1960s. While a more recent adaptation in the 1980s placed some emphasis on visual elements, such as costume and lighting, Ms Li said the tempo of the original performance, which lasts for three hours, was slightly slower than the second version which ran for 30 minutes less. 'The majority of [the] audience, who have seen the original adaptation, have always favoured it over the new version,' she said. Romance of West Chamber is less interesting in literary and theatrical terms. This was why it required a strong cast, Ms Li said. In fact, the audience will be able to see the entire touring cast members from all the operas during the performance of A collection of famous excerpts on February 14 at 2.30pm. In the Beijing Opera Extravaganza performances, some of the brightest stars from the top eight Beijing opera houses on the mainland perform excerpts of well-loved dramas that highlight the individual performers. The performances range from single singers, backed by an instrument, to vibrant martial arts and fight scenes. The performing styles of dan - the female lead in the opera, immortalised by the 'four great dan', who were all male actors: Mei Lanfang (the subject of Chen Kaige's latest film Forever Enthralled), Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu, and Xun Huisheng - are all represented. The extravaganza offers a rare opportunity for audiences to see such a wide variety of styles and number of top-class performers. One of the star performers is Yu Kuizhi, a renowned Beijing opera actor, who specialises in the role of laosheng, an older male role. This is the fourth time that Yu is taking part in the Arts Festival and his 14th time performing in front of a Hong Kong audience. He said that his two performances, Forest of the Wild Boars and The Huarong Path, were among the most significant in the Beijing opera repertoire. The Huarong Path is a scene inspired by the novel The Three Kingdoms, an account of the historic battles between 220 and 280 BC during which China was divided into three parts. Mr Yu plays heroic Guan Yu who confronts Cao Cao in a scene which presents a golden opportunity for Guan to defeat Cao and his troops. Forest of the Wild Boars, based on another novel, Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh), depicts the trials and tribulations of 108 outlaws during the mid-1300s. Yu plays Lin Chong, the training instructor of the imperial guards of the Song administration. He is forced to separate from his beloved wife and then becomes an outlaw. 'The main difference between the performing styles I use for Guan Yu and Lin Chong is the singing styles,' Yu said. 'For Guan Yu, I have used hongsheng to make sure that the effect is powerful and energetic to go with the character. With Lin Chong, I have adapted the performing style perfected by laosheng master Li Shao-chun. The scene is a total contrast to The Huarong Path - it requires a lot of sensitivity and the singing style is cantabile and full of emotion.' In addition to the extravaganza, there is one more Beijing opera performance. The Disinterested Governor Yu Chenglong, performed by The Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe, tells the tale of a newly appointed governor in Fujian province who discovers that his predecessor wrongly imprisoned thousands of innocent civilians. Governor Yu overcomes bureaucratic obstacles and retries many of the cases, bringing justice and prosperity to the people of Fujian. This production received four major national prizes and was a hit at the 2004 China Peking Opera Art Festival. The Shanghai Yueju Opera Theatre will perform A Dream of Red Mansions on February 13 at 7.30pm, a collection of famous excerpts on February 14 at 2.30pm, Love with a Fairy Carp on February 14 at 7.30pm and Romance of West Chamber on February 15 at 7.30pm. The shows take place in the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and feature Chinese and English surtitles. The Beijing Opera Extravaganza Concert - Performance in Costume takes place on February 19 and 20 in the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and features Chinese and English surtitles. The Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe will perform The Disinterested Governor Yu Chenglong on February 21 at 7.30pm in the Grand Theatre of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. The performance features Chinese and English surtitles.