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Yue Opera classic gets modern makeover


08-31-2016 12:41 BJT

Full coverage: G20 Hangzhou Summit

Yue Opera originated almost a century ago in a town near the Hangzhou Bay in eastern Zhejiang province. All the troupes of this type of opera are female. Famous for its elegant and soft singing style, the traditional art form is now experiencing a modern revival.

There was a packed theater in Shanghai for the classic Yue opera play “Phoenix Hairpin.” Set in the Song Dynasty, famous poet Lu You was forced to divorce his loving wife Tang Wan because of the disapproval of his mother. So Lu writes the poem Phoenix Hairpin to show his love.

Yue Opera artist Li Min has played the character Tang Wan for more than three decades now.

“Drawing from my experience and feedback from spectators, I would say traditional, well-known plays that are adapted a little are most welcomed by the audience,” Li said.

New sets, choreography, makeup and costumes are introduced in the traditional art form to attract the younger audience.

“We create a memorable theme song for each play and let the song permeate through the whole show. Take this show for example, we composed a song about this poem and it is sung throughout the show. This is unprecedented in opera performances,” said Qiu Jianping, general manger of Shaoxing Grand Theater Performance Company.

Yue Opera is one of the most popular among some 300 opera genres in China. Other timeless love stories include, “Butterfly Lovers,” which is often regarded as China’s version of Romeo and Juliet. It is still told today as one of the country’s four great folk tales.

The use of social media, such as WeChat and Weibo, is also helping to grow the fanbase of Yue Opera, especially among the country’s youth.

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