Chu Opera

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Chu Opera

Chu Opera Troupe

Group photo of famous writer Chi Li, Zhang Yiping (a winner of Wenhua Acting Award and notable Chu Opera actor), the leading actor in Chu Opera You Are a River, and Li Minhui (an excellent youth actress, a winner of “Safflower Award”)

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Mr. Dong Biwu, the former vice president of China, met with the play staff of Events in a Mountain Village and had heart-to-heart talks with such renowned Chu Opera actors as Zhong Huiran, Jiang Cuilan.

Chu Opera is a major local opera in Hubei Province, with its old name of “Flower-drum in Huangpi and Xiaogan”. Mainly focused on folk stories and family life, it reflects laborers’ life as its main content and portrays various images of small potatoes to present their wit, humor, willingness to help a just cause, vicissitudes of life, wrath and dissatisfaction. Most are satirical comedies. With plain and lifelike performance, Chu Operas center on characterization and are replete with strong interests and delights of life. Its major role types include Xiaodan (a young woman), Xiaosheng (a handsome young man or scholar), and Xiaochou (a comedian).Its tunes can be classified into three major sorts: the chief tune ya-qiang, lively ditty with thick local favor, and elegant and lyric high pitched tune of primitive simplicity. While developing itself, Chu Opera learns strong points from other operas, and achieves constant innovation and progress, thus favored and well received by the broad masses.

Opera You Are a River performed by Wuhan Chu Opera Troupe won the 8th Chinese Population Culture Award in 1999 and the gold medal of the 2nd Hubei Chu Opera Festival in 2000.

Chu Opera in China

Chu Opera, originally named Xilu Flower-drum, Flower-drum in Huangpi and Xiaogan, derived its present name in 1926. On the basis of ohe-qiang that was quite popular in East Hubei about hundreds of years ago, Chu Opera took shape by combining folk songs, daoqing (chanting folk tales to the accompaniment of simple percussion instruments), bamboo horse, stilt as well as shuochang (a popular entertainment consisting of mainly talking and singing) in Huangpi and Xiaogan.

Influenced by Peking Opera, Han Opera and modern operas gradually, Chu Opera adopted in 1922 a work division system among actors and music workers as well as such coined rhyme schemes as da-qiang and qi-qiang. In addition, its theatrical form began to change from arias to complete series and some properties in Peking Opera and Han Opera were also utilized in Chu Opera. Around 1927, more than 60 theatrical pieces were prepared and produced, such as Miss the Worldly, Go for the Meal, Deny Marriage, Draw Water, Dong Yong Sells Himself, Zhang Chaozhong, A Young Upright Official, Wujin Story. Ge Ma won worldwide reputation after 1949. Certain pieces were composed and staged over the past years, such as Gallant General, Breakthrough in Zhongyuan, etc.