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Current Location: Homepage » Chinese Culture » Culture Discovery » Main Body

Yue Tone Opera 越调

Profile:Yue Tone Opera 越调
Date: 2006
Category: Traditional Opera
Region: Henan Province
Project No. IV-27
Name of Applicant (region or institution): Zhoukou City, Henan Province
Yue Tone Opera, or Four-string, is an age-old opera of Henan Province, circulating mainly in South Shaanxi, North Hubei, West Anhui, Shandong and various parts of Henan Province. Also it has a wide popularity across the country. Dating back to the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty, Yue Tone Opera began circulating in Nanyang and gradually changed into one sort of tone opera, reaching its peak toward the end of Qing Dynasty. Since then, it has been performed in the form of shadow show & Yue Tone Opera, puppet & Yue Tone Opera, and Yue Tone troupe performance.
During the long course of development, a total of 500 programs have taken shape for the Yue Tone Opera, esp. well-known for staging three kingdoms. The representative programs include The Capture of Jiang Wei, Going Down to Nantang, Wuning Mansions, Li Tianbao Pays Last Respect, The Drunken Granny, Li Shuangxi Borrows Grain, The Burning Down of the Chamber, and Zhuge Liang Pays the Last Respect. The Yue Tone developed from the opera tune and then mingled with the clapper tone before it finally became a unique opera of mixed qualities. The clapper beats include slow clappers, water flow, bronze tone, Zanzi (eulogy), conducting clappers, flying clappers, quick beat & slow chant, wailing tone, blowing tone and mixed tone. The tune schemes total more 200, mostly adapted from other operas and folk music falling into flute scheme and string scheme. The chanting tone of Yue Tone Opera basically follow the Yue tone, with occasional elements of blowing tone, Kun Opera tone and seven sentences and a half. It has a unique style – quick tempo, plain honesty, distinct articulation and admixture of chant and laughter; it is suitable for expressing the passionate, excited and saddening scenes as well as measured, soft and lamenting moods, with distinct feature of folk music and local flavor of the central plain area. The tones of Yue Tone Opera abound while displaying its own feature and pattern. The performers use real voice for chanting complemented by false voice while the major tone of painted face is five degrees higher than that of other roles. The accompaniment also falls into Quiet Setting and Dynamic Setting: the musical instruments for the former include Zhuihu fiddle, flute, Erhu, trumpet, Three-string fiddle, Pipa zither, and Menzi zither while those for the latter involve clapper drum, big and small gongs, and hall drum.
The Yue Tone has a full range of roles, including red face, secondary red face, male, martial male, painted face, secondary hairy face, third painted face, female, young female, unmarried female, immoral female, martial female, and senior female, totaling over a dozen. Each role has a distinct feature. During the long-term practice on stage, a number of renowned schools of opera represented by Shen Fengmei and Mao Ailian have formed gradually.
The Yue Tone vividly depicts the social life in the central plain and is of great value for studies in social history and artistic history. During the course of transition from planned economy to market economy, Yue Tone has been confronted with great difficulties and the situation is worsening. The heartening past scenes -“gong and drum beating fills the whole city with a million fans involved in the opera while each village is staging Yue Tone opera” are no longer seen. Now, in the whole province of Henan, there are only two troupes in operation: Henan Province Yue Tone Opera Troupe and Xuchang City Yue Tone Opera Troupe. Due to shortage of funds, new programs cannot be staged and there is a lack of personnel which threatens the inheritance of the opera. The urgent task at present is to render more support to them in terms of policy and mobilize all trades and profession to undertake the salvation and preservation and the top priority is to salvage the rare feats of senior artists.
The folklore story-teller:
何全志 毛爱莲
He Quanzhi and Mao Ailian

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