A simple drama with song and dance

April 5, 2016

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 does 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.


Huangmei Opera Troupe

Chinese opera together with Greek tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit Opera are the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world. During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), the Emperor Taizong established an opera school with the poetic name Liyuan (Pear Garden). Over more than 800 years, Chinese opera evolved into many different regional varieties based on local traits and accents. Huangmei Opera is one of them.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

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China’s Ancient Opera still Alive with Mao Wei Tao

December 1, 2015

Mao Wei Tao is considered a living treasure in China—she has an estimated 20 million fans. 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’s Shaoxing Opera Mao Wei Tao, who in her decades long career on the stage is best known as an outstanding male impersonator with a cult following of women.

I was introduced to Yue Opera in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province more than 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, because 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. Today, “the company continues to tour and has staged productions in Paris, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Taiwan, the United States, Singapore, Spain, Holland, France, Belgium and Japan.”  – bangkokfestivals.com

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Peking Opera

March 26, 2013

Peking Opera is a combination of several styles of Chinese opera.

The metamorphosis started during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), about two hundred years ago.

Peking Opera focuses on historical events, legends about emperors, ministers, generals, geniuses and great beauties.

Performances are a combination of singing, dialogue, pantomime and acrobatic fighting and dancing.

Today, Peking Opera is considered the highest expression of Chinese culture.

The origins of Peking Opera did not begin in Peking (Beijing).  The opera had its start in the Chinese provinces of Anhui and Hubei.

Experts say the opera was born in 1790 and was originally staged for the royal family and then the public.

There are thousands of these operas that cover the history and literature of China. Peking operas can be divided into two categories.

“Civil” operas focus on singing while “Martial” operas feature acrobatics and stunts.  Some are a combination of both.

If Peking Opera interests you, see Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. 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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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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.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

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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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Jingyun Dagu, Beijing’s Story Telling Opera

September 21, 2010

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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The Falun Gong Machine

June 25, 2010

When I attended the 6th Asian Heritage Street Celebration in San Francisco, I stopped at a booth for Shen Yun Performing Arts staffed with attractive, college age girls. My wife loves dance, and I thought she might be interested. I asked if this dance troop was part of a local college or university. The girl who handed me the brochure said yes. She lied to me.

6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration

That evening, when I arrived home, I handed the brochure to my wife, who said, “That is Falun Gong.” I’ve written about The Falun Gong and Costco, about A Visit from the Falun Gong, and the more I learn about this group, the more sinister they become.

Turning to the Internet and using Google, I learned that New Tang Dynasty Television, Shen Yun Performing Arts and The Epoch Times all appear to be part of Falun Gong. I also discovered that Falun Gong must buy lots of Internet AD words so Google searches lead to one of the gears in the Falun Gong machine.  In fact, I had trouble finding anything but Falun Gong propaganda and had to keep altering my search terms to get beyond the Falun Gong firewall.

In time, I discovered a piece published in the Buffalo News saying, “the promoters and creators of “Shen Yun,” who have picked up a reputation for misrepresentation and deception over the years, have adopted the questionable propagandist tactics of the very government they criticize in their productions.”

Digging further, the New York Times reported, “China’s decision to ban Falun Gong was made after 10,000 adherents staged a silent protest outside the gates of Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party’s leadership compound in Beijing, to complain about reports in the state-run media that the group said were defamatory. Security forces apparently had no advance knowledge of the demonstration, which took place on April 25, 1999. The Chinese government began treating the group as a threat to national security.”

How about visiting Belching About China

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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. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.