Local Operas in China

Huangmei Opera  
 
Huangmei opera was originally called "Huangmei tune" or "tea-picking opera". It was a folk opera that was formed in the regions of Anhui, Hubei, and Jiangxi at the end of 18th century. One of the brands shifted to the Huaining County, which was the center of Anqing, and mixed with its local art, using its local language to sing and narrate.

Consequently, it formed its own characteristics, called "Huai Tune". That was the predecessor of Huangmei opera. At the middle of 19th century, influenced by "Qingyang Tune" and "Hui Tune", Huangmei opera developed into reserved copy opera. As a sort of opera, Huangmei opera was gradually known and accepted by others. At the beginning, Huangmei opera was mainly characterized by singing over dancing. It hadn't fixed mode, but to mimic the natural life. Some operas had the actions of tumbling and rushing, which was transferred from "Qingyang Tune" and "Hui Tune". The performers of Huangmei opera mainly came from farmers and workers. And the acting stuff was usually borrowed from the audiences. It this period, Huangmei opera was just the art form for the workers to entertain themselves.

Huangmei opera can be divided into coloratura and pingci. Coloratura acts small operas, and was full of the sense of folk music. Pingci is the main melody of reserved copy opera, which uses narration and lyrics to express its meanings.

Some excellent operas of Huangmei opera: "The Heavenly Maid and the Mortal", "Goddess' Marriage", "Emperor's Female Son-in-law" etc.

Henan Opera

Henan opera is commonly called "henan bangzi". The name, Henan opera, began to be used after the foundation of New China. Henan opera is popular among Henan, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Hubei, Ningxia, Xinjing etc, which is one of the most influential operas in China.

Henan opera came up at the end of Ming Dynasty, the beginning of Qing Dynasty. At the beginning, it was mainly song arias without make-up, which was loved by the ordinary people. As a result, it developed rapidly. The origin of Henan opera was hard to trace, and the sayings about its origin were different.

After its foundation, Henan opera was divided into different brands. There are mainly four here: Xiangfu tune (around Kaifeng area), Yudong tune (around Shangqiu area), Yuxi tune (around Luoyang), and Shahe tune (around Luohe). The main divisions are Yudong tune and Yuxi tune. Yudong tune was always used to express comic style, and Yuxi tune was always used to express tragic style.

Henan opera is always companied by banhu, erhu, sanxian, pipa, dizi, sheng, and suona etc.
Henan opera's styles are: firstly, it is very passionate and good at acting big shows. Secondly, it is very natural, common and close to ordinary people's life. Last but not the least, the conflicts are sharp, and the stories are complete.

Before 1927, there were no actresses in Henan bangzi. After the actresses appeared, it formed 5 performing sects, including Chang Xiangyu, Chen Suzhen, Ma Jinfeng, Yan Lipin and Cui Lantian. Chang's is passionate and ardent; Chen's is light and fresh; Ma's is vigorous and bright; Cui's is deep and reserved; Yan's is smooth and delicate.

The traditional repertoires of Henan opera have more than 1000, among which mostly come from historical stories, and others depict marriage, love and morality. After the foundation of New China, it appeared a lot of modern operas that depict reality, which made the Henan opera promoted

Nowadays, Henan opera is still loved by common people, but there are lots of severe problems in its development. The numbers of audiences are reducing, and the survival of the troupes is harsh. The performing group's literature and art quality are far away from the needs of modern society, and they lack the control of theory in the development of Henan opera. Besides, the succession and reform are blind. 

Kunqu Opera

Kunqu opera, in its development, had different kinds of names, such as, kuqiang, kun tune, kunqu etc. Generally speaking, kunqiang is used to express tunes of the opera, and kunqu is used to express oratorio. While kunqu opera is a kind of opera that means performance arts.

Kunqu opera had flourished and been the king in opera field for more than 230 years. That is to say, from Ming Dynasty to Qing Dynasty (1570-1800). It was the phase that the kunqu opera experienced its most flourishing period. New works came up continuously; the performance art became more and more mature, and the diversion was more and more specific. In the performing form, kunqu opera changed from unabridged version of legend to zhezi opera. Zhezi opera selected the excellent episodes of an opera to enrich the details, and consequently became the independent short opera. Zhezi opera brought a lively prospect into the kunqu opera, using its vivid story, brilliant performances, and various art styles.

Kunqu opera has a rich variety, and its scripts are elegant. It is an enjoyment when you read the scripts. Many lines come from poems. Besides, kunqu opera has a particular tune system and a complete acting system. Kunqu opera is a comprehensive art which combines singing, dancing, narrating and acting together. The literature, music, and dance of Chinese opera are all perfected and become mature in the development of kunqu opera.

The growth of kunqu opera represents the growth of Chinese opera. It has direct influence on the development of Beijing opera, Chuan opera, Xiang opera and Huangmei opera. That is why people always regard it as the "grand-father of all the operas".