China’s Huangmei Opera

October 8, 2012

Anqing, in Anhui Province, is regarded as the hometown of Huangmei Opera and Hui Opera. Anqing was first built in 1217 and is almost eight-hundred years old, but Huangmei Opera first appeared about two centuries ago as a simple drama of song and dance.


Huangmei Opera Troupe

Huangmei opera did not involve the traditional opera gestures which often-used sleeves and step movements. The music is performed with a pitch that hits high and stays high and does not sound like the typical rhythmic Chinese opera.

The fairy tale of the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl is one of the four most famous folktales of ancient China. It is a classic love story between a fairy and a human being and has a widespread influence. The Qixi Festival is said to have something to do with the fairy tale, and the seventh day of every seventh month of the lunar calendar has become the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Chinese opera together with Greek tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit Opera are the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world.

Discover Peking Opera

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Chinese Opera and Mao Wei Tao, China’s Living Treasure

June 18, 2011

Mao Wei Tao is considered a living treasure in China. She imitates men in the opera roles she plays—a reversal from Imperial China when women were not allowed on stage so men played female roles.

“In 1923, the training of female actors for this art form was set up. Since 1928, the Shaoxing opera troupes, consisting of solely female actors, began their performances in Shanghai. In a few years, females impersonating males had become the most important feature of this opera form, and at the same time the Yue opera became well known all over China.”

East China’s Zhejiang province gave China Shaoxing Opera’s Mao Wei Tao.

In her thirty-year career on the stage, she’s best known as an outstanding male impersonator with a cult following of women.

I was introduced to Yue Opera in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province about a decade ago.

Mao Wei Tao and her husband have a theater company near the shores of the famous Westlake. My wife translated while I watched the live-opera performance in fascination.

The costumes were lavish and the acting and opera was dramatic while classical Chinese music played in the background.

The challenge today is to keep this form of Chinese opera alive. The audience for opera is shrinking dramatically in China while remaining popular with the older generation.

Television, movies and the Internet are claiming the shorter attention spans of younger Chinese

Mao Wei Tao, considered an innovative genius on stage, adapts and works to keep the art form alive. According to her husband, no two performances are exactly alike.

In November 2010, she performed in Taiwan as a cultural ambassador from the mainland.

This revised and edited post first appeared on March 14, 2010 as Mao Weitao and Yue 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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