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Yueju Opera

An Introduction to Yueju Opera

Yueju Opera, also called Shaoxing Opera, is one of the four principal operas in China. As a traditional Chinese performing art, Yueju opera is a good combination of abstraction and realism. Its repertory is mainly based on Chinese folklore, classical literature and history events. Till now, it is still very popular in many southern provinces, such as Zhenjiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Fujian, etc.

It originated around Shengxian County (belongs to Zhejiang Province nowadays) about 100 years ago. As the county belonged to the Yue State in ancient times, the opera was given the name of Yueju Opera). Initially, it was only performed by men. Later, in 1923, women performers began to appear and gained recognition gradually. For a period of time, they even took all the places of men on the stage, which meant all the roles were played by women (even male roles). However, after 1949, men and women performed together.

Yueju Opera evolved from a kind of story-singing. At the very beginning, the opera was performed with a small drum and hardwood clappers for rhythm. With time passed by, it borrowed some musical elements from other operas and finally formed its own style, combining classical singing, acting and dancing into one art form. It is most famous for its pure tune, vivid performance and rich folk flavor.

There also exist some noted Yueju Opera Groups, including Spring, Red flag, etc. Nowadays, we can still enjoy some classical Yueju Operas, such as Butterfly Lovers, the Romance of West Chamber, etc.

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