Anhui's Huangmei Opera making its mark in performing arts
By Joey Villaram
Tradition and innovation, like oil and water, supposedly do not mix.
But the Anhui-based Huangmei Opera – one of the five major Chinese opera styles – hopes to continue to make its mark in the performing arts by combining both the old and the new.
Fancy costumes, exaggerated make-up…and high-pitched voices. These usually characterize traditional Chinese opera.
While the various forms of Chinese opera may all sound and look the same, one form of the traditional performing art wants to be an exception.
Dating back at least 200 years, the Huangmei Opera wants to be prominently known for its unique local flavor and style.
The Huangmei Opera is one of the 5 traditional Chinese Opera styles. Combined with local art, local music and the local dialect, it has become widely popular here in Anqing in central China's Anhui Province.
But it has been made more famous because of the efforts of local born artists like Han Zaifen, whose work is recognized nationally.
To ensure that the values and aesthetics of modern times are reflective, input from the younger generation is also important. That is why the majority of the members of Zaifen's Huangmei Opera Troupe are young.
Despite their age, they take the ancient art form very seriously. One female Huangmei opera singer describes how she prepares for a typical performance day, "We come here two hours earlier for makeup. We practice singing every morning and afternoon, not just before going on stage as we want to give our best performance for the audience."
A male performer, meanwhile, shares his passion for the performing art. "I am going to act as a rickshaw driver. I've been singing Huangmei Opera since I was five years old. I am still excited about performing on stage."