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Huangmei Opera

An Introduction to Huangmei Opera

Huangmei Opera is a major Chinese local opera popular in Anhui Province, dating back to some 200 years. Originally known as "Huangmei Melody" or "Tea-Picking Opera", the opera is evolved from Huangmei tea-picking tunes based folk songs and dances.

The operatic tunes of Huangmei Opera are mostly lyrical, with a lingering charm, very beautiful sounding. There are two major types of tunes: ordinary tunes and florid ornamentations. Ordinary tunes are mainly used in the major sections of the opera to express emotions and tell the story in great length; florid ornamentations are mostly folk songs and tunes. Originally, the key accompaniment instrument was gaohu. Other traditional musical instruments and gongs and drums were also used to make a good effect. Later, a mixed band of Chinese and western musical instruments was introduced. In terms of the performing art of the opera, emphasis has been paid to make the opera close to daily life. The art is well positioned to get across the idea contained in the movements and to express delicate feelings of the characters, as well.

There's a wide range of plays in Huangmei Opera. Some portray people airing their grievances and looking ahead to a bright future and some depict daily rural life. Well known Huangmei Opera plays like Dongyong and Fairy, Emperor's Female Son-in-Law and The Cowherd and The Weaving Girl have been made into movies, causing great impact at home and abroad. Noted Huangmei Opera artists include Yan Fengying, Wang Shaofang, Wu Qiong and Ma Lan etc.

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