Traditional opera gala held in Quanzhou to celebrate Chinese folk culture
Published: Nov 27, 2023 06:59 AM
The Qinqiang Opera Journey of Zhaojun Photos: Courtesy of Yisu Theater

The Qinqiang Opera Journey of Zhaojun Photos: Courtesy of Yisu Theater

For better promotingtraditional Chinese opera among the public, The 4th Showcase for Excellent Plays by Private Theatre Troupes Nationwide, a gala that is crowded with performances of several Chinese local opera genres, has recently been held in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province. 

A total of 14 opera performances will delight audiences during the event. Such shows cover diverse styles, including the Qinqiang Opera that was originated in Shaanxi Province, the Henan, Shanghai and Jiangxi opera styles that are more commonly known as the Yu, Hu and Gan Operas according to the abbreviations of these provinces and cities. 

Hou Qiuying, an expert of Chinese folk arts and traditional operaz, told the Global Times that those different opera styles were "attributed to Chinese folk arts' diverse regional characters," and they also "describe the 'personalities' of different Chinese provinces and cities. 

Taking the Qinqiang opera as an exampleis a bold style best known for its performers' bright and penetrating voices, while the Hu Opera, whichis interpreted in soft-spoken Shanghai dialect is much more melodic. 

"China's regional operas can embody the spectrum and diversity of Chinese folk heritage," Hou the expert told the Global Times. 

A part from traditional operas, the Quanzhou event offers several classic Chinese plays for audiences including the Thunderstorm (1934), a milestone in China's history of theater by playwright Cao Yu. 

Adapted from novelist Shen Congwen's novelette, the play Border Town has been interpreted into a musical drama engaging audiences into a small town story in the overlapping area of Sichuan and Hunan provinces during the beginning of modern China. 

Cultural sociologist Xu Shuming, told the Global Times that classic Chinese plays like these not only reveal the development of Chinese theaters back then, but also show the "social value system and literaryethos of pre-1949China." 

"Using new theatrical styles such as the musical form to interpret these time-honored Chinese stories help the public, especially young people, to reconcile with historical Chinese culture," Chu told the Global Times. 

All the performances at the event will be delivered by private theater groups across the country. So far, there are more than 170 private theater groups across the country. As a folk opera worker in Shanghai, Hou told the Global Times that there were "around 100" private groups in the city and that the total number of annual performances is estimated to be over 10,000. 

"Reaching out for collaboration has been the most fruitful method for private theater groups to grow and make a name for themselves. It is clear to see that most of those groups have recovered from the shadow brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them are now searching for overseas collaborations in Japan and the US," said the expert. 

Additionally, the event of the 4th Showcase for Excellent Plays by Private Theatre Troupes Nationwide will incorporateacademic discussions. Experts of the opera and theater industries were invited to Quanzhou to provide advice on scripts and performances. 

Hou told the Global Times that rather than seeing it as an "academic exchange," the fair is more like an "open platform for different people in the industry to seekcollaborations and exchanges." 

The event of the Showcase for Excellent Plays by Private Theatre Troupes Nationwide was initiated in 2018. Prior to the Quanzhou event, the show was held in Beijing and Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province. 

Small-scale shows and an opera themed market fair have will be held in local villages to attract visitors.