New fans needed for Chinese opera

By Xu Feng and Yu Fei ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-15 06:59:21

New fans needed for Chinese opera

Enthusiasts perform the Huangmei Opera at a park in Anqing, Anhui province. [Jiang Sheng/China Daily]

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The sixth annual Hubei Traditional Chinese Opera Gala was well-attended, but industry insiders say it's an anomaly and a new generation of enthusiasts is needed if the art form is to survive. Xu Feng and Yu Fei of Xinhua report in Wuhan.

Visitors to a Chinese opera festival in Central China's Hubei province over the past two weeks might come away with the impression that traditional operas are thriving.

"It's truly a happy festival for us and we've been waiting for too long," says Yang Jun, a renowned Huangmei Opera artist. The first Hubei Traditional Chinese Opera Gala was held in 2008. At that time, no one expected the gala would survive six years.

This year, about 100,000 people watched more than 100 performances from 19 schools of traditional opera. The performances were staged in theaters, villages, and public squares.

However, industry insiders played down the strong attendance, saying most traditional Chinese operas still struggle to find audiences.

Over the past 50 years, many schools of traditional Chinese opera have disappeared and the total number has fallen from about 360 to 200, according to former vice-minister of culture Wang Wenzhang.

"I cannot help but be pessimistic about their future," says Peng Wanrong, head of the art department of Wuhan University.

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