Jingyun Dagu, Beijing’s Story Telling Opera

Jingyun Dagu is a form of Chinese opera where stories are often sung in a Beijing dialect accompanied by a drum along with one or two other musical instruments. 

The stress is on singing and depicts the stories in short episodes.

Dagu was first popular near the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and is still popular in China’s capital today.

One super star of Dagu is Luo Yusheng,who was born in 1914. Her stage name is Xiao Caiwu.  Even in her 90s, she emcees TV programs and occasionally performs.

This link, Happy Spring Festival, will take you to a video of Luo Yusheng performing for about 2.5 minutes in 1995, playing wooden clappers and drum while singing in a Beijing dialect.

Although this performance of Dagu is not her best known work, it was the only example I found on the Internet and I couldn’t embed the video in the post.

Well known by most of China, her fans call her the Queen of the Golden Voice. She studied Peking Opera at the age nine and switched to Dagu at 17. 

After the PRC was founded in 1949, Dagu singers were regarded as people’s artists or actors, who sang traditional stories and new operas with themes reflecting contemporary life such as patriotic Communist stories like Glorious Journey, Red Flag Over Mount Everest, and Patriotism and Roaring Waves.

The singer/drummer is often accompanied by the Sihu (a four-stringed instrument similar to an Erhu) and Pipa (lute) in addition to three-stringed lutes and wooden clappers. One of the sources for this post was China Culture.org.

See Peking Opera

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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