Cantonese Opera, Hong Kong
Did you see the film "Farewell to My Concubine" and wonder about the "squeaky" voice produced by the artist? The History of Cantonese Opera can be dated back to the southern Soong dynasty (1179-1276 AD). Chinese Opera is a world away from the Western variety. The singing style which appears to violate the principles of "correct" singing in Western music is considered aesthetically desirable in the Orient. It's a mixture of singing, speaking, mime, acrobatics and dancing that last 6 hours.
Watching Chinese operas is an interesting experience. Besides the colourful & shimmering costumes, dazzling headdress and ornaments, there are beauty & gracefulness in movements and gestures, poetic phrases and heart-rending melodious songs. Most opera stories are based on Chinese history and famous Chinese classics.
A great way to see and appreciate Chinese culture is to watch Cantonese Opera being performed but due to a declining audience there is not much opportunity to do so anymore.
The Sunbeam Theatre in North Point had performed operas for the past forty years but the privately run theatre did not renew its latest lease and was advertised to close earlier this year. There was a recent article in Hong Kong English newspaper the South China Morning Post that a new lease has been signed and the theatre is to undergo renovation before re-opening again.
In the coming years the Hong Kong Government is looking at opening new venues in a move to keep Chinese Opera relevant in the 21st century. A thousand seat opera house called the Xiqu Centre is due to open in 2015. In the interim the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre has been constructed on the Xiqu Centre site. The 800 seat theatre was the venue for a number of sold out opera performances during this year's Chinese New Years holiday.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin has reconstructed a bamboo theatre in its heritage hall. Here you can view authentic Cantonese Opera costumes along with multimedia presentations about the history and character of this once popular entertainment. On Saturday afternoons the Hong Kong Tourism Board runs a free Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class for museum visitors.
duk-duk-chaang is the nickname of Chinese operas, it similates the sound of the musical instruments used in the operas.
Chinese operas - unlike operas in the rest of the world, are the entertainment for elderly in Hong Kong.
For me, the music is always noisy and the lyrics are too difficult to understand. Generation gap?
Anyway, it's really interesting to look at the costumes of the performers. They are really special.
If you are interested in watching one, go to 'Sun Kwong Theatre' in North Point. Shows are frequently available there.
The picture on the left was taken by chance when I passed by a football ground in Mong Kok.
'fing shui faat' means the action of a performer who rotates her head continuously at a high speed as shown in the pic on the left. This action is very common in Chinese opera. Wanna try?