Yue Opera, also known as Shaoxing Opera, is the second most popular type of Chinese Opera. It was listed in the first batch of nationally protected non-material pieces of cultural heritage.
History of Yue Opera
Yue Opera came into being in 1906 and at the time was called 'Little Song Class'. The singers were mostly male farmers who sang and worked at the same time. In the early 1920s, more female singers began taking up Yue Opera and from 1930s to 1940s, Yue Opera experienced a great reformation thanks to the dedication of many artists, such as Yao Shuijuan, Li Yanfang, Shi Yinhua. The content of the reformed Yue Opera was mainly focussed on disseminate patriotic ideology, combatting feudalism and revealing the injustice of the society. A troop named "Sound of Snow" performed the Mistress Xiang Lin, a play adapted from the novel Blessings written by Lunxun, in May 1946 and marked a new stage of Yue Opera. The Chinese government attached great importance to the national opera especially as Chinese premier Zhou Enlai greatly enjoyed the art of Yue Opera. After the foundation of the state, more and more Yue Opera troops and classes began forming in most cities.
The Art of Yue Opera
The tone of Yue Opera tends to be lyrical, dulcet and leisurely. There are many roles and charcters in Yue Opera, including small-dan, small-sheng, old-sheng, small-chou, old-dan and big-mian (sheng=male roles; dan=female roles; jing=roles with painted faces; chou or clown=a comic character).
Performers and Plays of Yue Opera
Xu Yulan is a well-known artist who had played Jia Baoyu in Dream of Red Mansions. Her master works also including Chunhyangjeon, Romance of the West Chamber and North land. Her performances are filled with passion and her voice is clear and articulate.
Another famous artist is Xiaoya who was awarded the 21st Drama Plum Blossom Prize. She is not only gifted, but also hard-working and innovative. She was one of the main people who inspired combining the opera with song. Her courtly performance persona and sweet voice give her a unique artistic charm.
Flower is a Go-between, Dream of Red Mansions, Butterfly Lovers, My Wife is a Princess, Southeast the Peacock Flies and Mistress Xiang Lin are the classic Yue Opera plays and as well as these there are still a number of excellent shows worth watching.