Decoding the popularity of traditional Yue Opera
Published: May 19, 2024 09:49 PM
Chen Lijun Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

Chen Lijun Photo: Courtesy of Mango TV

China's traditional operas are in. Young Yue Opera actress Chen Lijun recently appeared on the show Ride the Wind 2024, bringing traditional culture to the stage of the popular show  and stunning audiences with a performance in which opera singing met sword dance. Combining traditional opera culture with modern pop elements, Chen vividly expressed the heroic image of Chinese women.

Ever since 2023, Xiao Bai Hua, one of the most remarkable Yue Opera troupes from East China's Zhejiang Province, has produced New Dragon Gate Inn, which turned into a phenomenal hit. Chen and her partner Li Yunxiao have become so well-known across the country that tickets for their performances always sell out. 

This innovative adaptation has not only rejuvenated a traditional art form that definitely deserves more attention, but has also enthralled younger audiences who are usually not opera-goers. 

"The popularity of Yue Opera was definitely not achieved overnight. It is due to the accumulation of creative ideas that generations of Yue opera actors and actresses have continued to explore and update," said Mao Weitao, a renowned Yue Opera performing artist and the artistic director of New Dragon Gate Inn, who talked about Yue Opera's success with Chen and Li at the National Youth Opera Screenwriters Training Class on Saturday. 

Over the years, generations of Yue Opera performers have been innovating and exploring the art form's creative landscape. 
"Thinking about how to integrate with today's era and use Yue Opera as a carrier to express our feelings about the current world and current life is important," said Mao. 

Although they try their best to purse modern expression, these methods will always stem from "the most traditional four skills and five methods of Chinese Opera, and from our traditional Chinese drama spirit."

Chen also noted that she is taking every chance to promote Yue Opera as she hopes to make more people to see possibilities of the art form while encouraging parents to send their children to study and learn about it. 

According to Mao, thanks to the popularity of Yue Opera, the number of students who choose to learn it has greatly increased, a healthy sign for the whole industry.