29 July 2014 07:15 | By Chua Yan Yu
A new lease of life for Chinese opera

It’s a traditional art form that’s seen better days, but Chinese opera troupes and enthusiasts in Singapore are not giving up without a fight.



Chinese Opera (© Nam Hwa Opera)
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  • Ming Hwa Yuan "Tian" Taiwanese Opera Co.
  • with Ming Hwa Yuan "Tian" Taiwanese Opera Co.
  • Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple Association
  • Nam Hwa Opera (© Nam Hwa Opera)
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Once a popular source of entertainment that attracted swelling crowds in Singapore, Chinese opera faces the possibility of walking into history.

A form of Chinese musical theatre, which incorporates a wide range of art forms like song, dance, acrobatics and martial arts, Chinese opera was performed as a way of offering thanks to deities for protection and blessings. However, since the 70s, the availability of more entertainment options such as radio and television, coupled with the ban on dialects in media programmes, has made this traditional art, which dates back to the Tang Dynasty, passé and unrelatable to younger generations.

Troupe members have also aged and many professional opera troupes have called it a day, including the 104-year-old Sin Sai Hong Hokkien Opera Troupe, which sang its swan song in March this year.

But the waning of this traditional art did not go unnoticed. In recent years, more people are voicing their concerns over the possible disappearance of Chinese opera, and how it would adversely impact our heritage.

Different organisations, including one run by MediaCorp freelance artiste Nick Shen, are also doing all they can to give this dying trade a boost.

Click through our gallery to find out how.