Yue Opera Characteristics
t was derived from a kind of story-singing. At first, it was performed with a small drum and hardwood clappers for rhythm, and later choral and orchestral accompaniment was added. It drew some musical elements from other operas and subsequently formed its own characteristics.
Shaoxing Opera is noted for the lyricism of its melodies, and singing is a dominant part of it. Its tunes are sweet and beautiful and the performance vivid and full of local color. And as the opera has grown, its basis in reality and everyday life as well as the use of colloquial language has remained strong.
Originally Yue opera was only performed by males and then changed to all female performances. After 1949, males and females work together. With the entry of television and movies into family entertainment in the lives of people in Zhejiang Province and neighboring provinces and cities, the number of Yue opera performances are on the decline.
Besides, Yue opera is sung in local dialect and may not be understood by people from other parts of the country. As a result, Yue opera still remains as a local opera. However, it is very popular in countryside, especially during festivals such as the Spring Festival. Open-air performances are commonplace with crowds gathering in a large square, sitting or standing, watching and listening to the actors and actresses.
The texts of Yue opera are based on romantic love stories, and they do not include acrobatics or fighting scenes. In Yue opera, stage properties and light effects are used and the costumes imitate the light-colored clothes, fashionable at the beginning of this century in China. The most famous plays performed in Shaoxing style are "Butterfly Lovers", which is a kind of Chinese version of "Romeo and Juliet", and the love dramas "A Dream of Red Mansions " and "The Romance of the West Chamber ".
Every play of Yue opera is divided into several acts, each of which depicts an inseparable part of the whole story. The ending is usually a happy one.