Traditional Chinese operas face battle for audience

Updated: 2014-07-14 09:20


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Visitors to a Chinese opera festival in central China's Hubei Province over the past two weeks might easily 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," said 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 over 100 performances from 19 schools of traditional opera. The performances were staged in theaters, villages, and squares.

However, industry insiders played down the strong attendance, saying most traditional Chinese operas still find it hard to win audience.

Over the past half century, many schools of traditional Chinese opera have died out and the total number has decreased from around 360 to 200, the China Culture Daily said, quoting former vice minister of culture Wang Wenzhang.

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


Traditional Chinese operas generally have their roots in the countryside. Their singing and dancing traditions as well as storytelling have gradually lost resonance with the young generation. They have to fight for attention with modern forms of entertainment such as movies, television and video games.

"It is not easy for these old operas to win the hearts of modern people, especially the youngsters, who are spoiled by choice," said Fu Caiwu, director of the research and innovation center of national culture at Wuhan University.

"In contrast, the number of players of an online game on any typical day can easily reach several millions," Fu said.

Traditional Chinese operas face battle for audience

Traditional Chinese operas face battle for audience

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