Yueju Opera comes to life for Shanghai expats in City News Service workshop
Seven expat families from 11 countries including Italy, UK, Mexico, Nepal and the Netherlands experienced the romance, elegance and distinctive charm of traditional Chinese theater on Sunday.
The Yueju Opera experience workshop, organized by City News Service and supported by Shanghai Yueju Opera Company, provided foreigners insights into the art form's origin, vocal development and representative plays like "The Butterfly Lovers" and "A Dream of Red Mansions."
Originated in Shengzhou, Zhejiang Province, around 1906, Yueju Opera is one of China's most popular operas in terms of its sweet lyrics, beautiful and soft tunes, and gentle performing style.
With influences from drama and film, the stage art has grown and flourished in Shanghai since 1917.
On Sunday's workshop, Yueju Opera performers Li Xudan, Shen Xinwen and Shen Yan staged original Yueju Opera ballads "Far Far Away Is the Altair" and "The Guest Comes from a Distant Quarter" for expats.
They also taught expats how to perform varied feelings and scenarios on stage through footwork and body postures.
With the help of circular fans and water sleeves, expats delightfully joined actors to depict scenes like going shopping, going traveling and the feeling of a little chilly in winter.
They also had a try of Yueju Opera's make-up and costumes to learn more about the theater.
Veteran actress Shen Xinwen is also Shanghai Yueju Opera Company's promotional ambassador.
"Over the years, our company has been dedicated to aesthetic education among students, expats, community residents, white-collar workers and so on," Shen said. "We have diverse programs on offer to ignite the enthusiasm of people in Yueju Opera."
Ashish Maskay, a surgeon from Nepal and founder of Bloodline, took his family to the workshop and all of them enjoyed it so much.
"We love traditional Chinese culture and we are always fascinated with Chinese opera," he said. "It is very amazing to take part in it as actors. Yueju Opera's make-up is so nice and China is very rich in culture and art."
Carlo Capotosti, from Italy, used to learn some basic skills of Peking Opera. Vivid stories about the origin and development of Yueju Opera which were narrated at the workshop interested him a lot.
James Bagnall, from UK, said that he learned a lot of knowledge about the artistic Yueju Opera, and he is very willing to introduce traditional Chinese operas to his friends, and his young son first of all.
On occasions of traditional Chinese festivals, Shanghai Yueju Opera Company usually hosts theme workshops for people to get close to the charm of this intangible cultural heritage.
Han Lei, an official from the company noted that they will spare no effort in the inheritance of the art, aimed to develop a successful example of cultural confidence in Shanghai.
"We will introduce the time-honored art to more colleges and schools," said Han. "In the near future, we will provide Yueju Opera training workshops for children. We will also join hands with local theaters to organize vivid and diverse programs like summer camps to bring more vitality and fun to the art."
In May, the company will also present classic plays at local theaters. As follows are the performance information.
"The Jade Hairpin" ( a special performance for Mother's Day)
Date: May 14, 7:15pm
Venue: the Great Theater of China, 704 Niuzhuang Rd.
"A Gentleman in Flowers"
Date: May 25, 7:15pm
"The Pearl Pagoda"
Date: May 26, 7:15pm
"The Butterfly Lovers"
Date: May 27, 7:15pm
Venue: Wanping Theater, 859 Zhongshan Rd S2
City News Service will be hosting a range of different events and workshops similar to this one. Leave us a message to sign up for the next one, so you can truly experience the vibrant atmosphere of Shanghai and meet more friends from different nationalities who are living a wonderful life here.