Anhui Huangmei Opera, China
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Its origin can be traced back to the folk songs people in Huangmei, Hubei used to sing while plucking tea. Melodious, graceful, plain and easy to understand, Huangmei Opera becomes popular among people around the world.
Huangmei Opera is prominent in expression of emotions. Diversified in rhyme and beautiful in melody, Huangmei Opera is compared to "flying clouds and flowing water". The arias of Huangmei Opera consist of coloratura (Hua Qiang) and "flat tune" (Ping Ci).
Playlets are mainly made up of coloraturas. Based mostly on short stories in real life, the playlets are simple in content and the way of presentation, with strong taste of life and folk songs. Flat tunes make the major arias of script plays, which are long plays of multiple and complex plots. Flat tunes are adopted in long paragraphs of description or emotion expressing. They sound beautiful and soothing.
Huangmei Opera is often presented in the form of singing and dancing, bringing forth dramatis personae in its plain but vigorous pattern, giving a realistic and plain feeling. It has Gaohu, a kind of Chinese fiddle, as the main accompaniment.
Plays of various themes can be presented in the harmony of Gaohu with other folk musical instruments, including gongs and drums.
During the regime of Qianlong of Qing Dynasty, natural disasters repeatedly devastated Huangmei areas, driving people away from their homes. Some of the fugitive fled to Jiangxi Province and others to Anhui Province.
Most of them lived on mendicancy, playing some folk music instruments and singing the songs they used to sing when plucking tea. A group of them drifted east to Anqing Area of Anhui, the center of which was Huaining. They sang in the local dialect and consequently their songs were called Huai Ditty. This was the early stage of today's Huangmei Opera.
Huangmei Opera derives purely from folk art. It is natural, exquisite, lively and vigorous in style, plain and simple in language, beautiful and smooth in melody, and explicit in expressing emotions. With Anqing mandarin spoken in its dialogue, Huangmei Opera is characterized with a strong scent of local life.
With its soft songs and graceful dance, Huangmei Opera has swept the country and received honor from people in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas. It is also appreciated by Queen of Britain. It has become one of the prominent major regional operas of China.