Hong Kong diva Liza Wang to embrace love for Valentine’s Day

TV and opera star Liza Wang hopes to convey different sides of the emotion as she takes to the stage with the HK Chinese Orchestra

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 February, 2015, 10:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 February, 2015, 5:20am

There is hardly any subject the diva for all seasons shies away from, whether it be the performing arts or politics.

Liza Wang Ming-chun has been a household name in Hong Kong for almost half a century for her towering presence in television and Cantonese opera. She is second to none in holding public and charity positions alongside her busy performing schedule.

"I will take leave from the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing next month because I've got concerts and television shows to shoot," she said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

Before becoming a member of China's top advisory body in 1998, Wang served two terms as a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress. Her comment at the 1990 session on the bloodshed in Beijing the previous year "breaking the hearts of the Hong Kong people" was probably a highlight of her 10 years in the national parliament.

"I made that remark at the Hong Kong session. It was something I should say and it was also my feeling, and this hasn't changed over the years," she said.

Tomorrow, Wang will go on stage with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra to perform a selection of love songs for both the Western and lunar Valentine's Day. The latter falls in the first week of next month, which is why she will miss the start of the Beijing meeting.

"I hope to convey through the songs I selected a message that love can take many different forms, including with tragic endings," she laughed.

"There is a Chinese saying that bitterness makes couples and hatred makes father and son.

"My first two songs at the concert, Debt from the Heart by the late Anita Mui and Loving You Turns Out Hurting You from The White Snake Tale, convey the paradoxical nature of love," she said, adding it could also apply to recent Hong Kong-mainland relations.

In a rare move, she will also perform an English-language song. "Though I am not a Christian, I will sing Amazing Grace like a devout believer because I think somewhere on the horizon there's a superbeing leading us through daily anxieties," she said.

But the work that brought about this round of concerts as a sequel to her 2013 show was the famous Huangmei opera style, which she sang to critical acclaim in a duet with Ivy Ling Po, who popularised the style in Shaw Brothers films half a century ago.

"I listened to Huangmei style when I was small on the outskirts of Shanghai and it's my honour to sing the famous arias from The Butterfly Lovers opera with Sister Ling again," she said.