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Local Opera Serves as Foundation of Beloved National Art Form

Pub Date:17-04-11 09:29 Source:China Daily

The Couple Watching Lanterns is one of the classical Huangmei Opera programs.

Han Zaifen, a renowned contemporary Huangmei Opera artist, performs on thestage.

The locals' enthusiasm is the main reason for the development of Huangmei Opera.

An Anhui opera depicts Romance of Three Kingdoms.

China has thousands of types of local opera, but only a few of them have become famousnationwide.

The Huangmei Opera, a local form of opera in East China's Anhui province, is one of themainstream opera genres in China, along with the Peking Opera in Beijing, Yue Opera inZhejiang, Ping Opera in Hebei and Yu Opera in Henan.

The original Huangmei Opera was sung by women while picking tea, and was called the PickingTea Song.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the songs became a local opera popular in Anhui'sAnqing city and its adjacent regions, combining local folk art and the Anqing dialect in singingand chants.

Huangmei Opera was active in border regions among Anhui, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces in the18th century.

In the first half of the 20th century, Huangmei performances gradually became professional, risingfrom rural areas to city stages. Artists developed the opera and borrowed performance stylesfrom other operas. They reformed the traditional chants, making the drama easy to understandwith a lively rhythm.

The year 1952 was crucial for Huangmei Opera, when excellent artists Yan Fengying, WangShaofang and others gave performances in Shanghai for a big opera festival. Audiences fromvarious areas were shocked and appreciated Huangmei Opera, attracted by its new singingforms and stories.

Huangmei Opera became very famous nationwide after that. The big success evoked thepassion of Huangmei Opera artists and they created such classics as The Heavenly Match, TheHerd Boy and the Weaving Girl and The Female Prince Consort.

It attracts the audience with its unique melody, its heart-touching narration and its simple andelegant costumes.

Anhui Opera

The most famous operatic genre in China is the Peking Opera, however audiences can judgefrom the dialect it uses that it is not a Beijing-native opera at all.

Indeed, the Peking Opera was born when the "Four Great Anhui Troupes" brought Anhui Opera,or what is now called Huiju, to Beijing in 1790 for the 80th birthday of the Qianlong Emperor. Itwas originally staged for the court and only made available to the public later.

In 1828, several famous Hubei troupes arrived in Beijing and performed with Anhui troupes. Thecombination gradually formed Peking Opera's melodies and the Anhui dialect is used in thesinging, dialogues and narrations.

Anhui Opera originated from the "Huichi elegant tones" - operas that are popular in Huizhou(today's Huangshan city) and Chizhou prefectures during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

It is among the oldest existing operas in China. Because it had incorporated the singing andperforming styles of neighboring provinces and regions and made its own innovations, the operahas made a great contribution to development of China's timeless opera culture.


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