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

Erhuang Opera of the Han Tone 汉调二簧

Profile:Erhuang Opera of the Han Tone 汉调二簧
Category: Traditional Opera
Region: Shaanxi Province
Project No. IV-31
Name of Applicant (region or institution): Ankang City, Shaanxi Province
Erhuang Opera of the Han Tone, also known as Shaanxi Erhuang or Shan Erhuang, is the second major opera of Shaanxi, circulating in Ankang, Hanzhong, Shangluo and Xi’an of Shaanxi Province and some parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Hubei provinces. Originating from the mountain songs, grazing songs, and folk songs in the drainage of Han River in South Shaanxi, it was receiving influences from Qin Opera early in the Qing Dynasty and later drew on the tunes of Kun Opera, Blowing Tone and Gaobozi Tone as well as the dialect before taking shape as an independent type of tone and opera. Originally, it took double flutes as accompaniment and as the reed (huang) of flute was made of bamboo, it was then called Erhuang (two reeds). To allow it to distinguish from the Peking Erhuang, it was called Local Erhuang. There are a lot of programs of Erhuang of the Han Tone. In Ankang City alone, there are over 1,200 with 420 uncovered and recorded as volume opera and 517 as booklet opera. These programs were mainly adapted from The Record of Kingdoms in East Zhou Dynasty, The Romance of Three Kingdoms and Investiture of the Gods and other historical stories and folktales. The typical programs are Wenji Telling Apart the Zithers, Eighteen Beats of Hujia Reed Pipe, Fighting the Chiyou Tribe, Testing Hundred Plants, The War of Huangtiandang, Qingfeng Pavilion, The Plum Reblossom, The Raid of Royal Parlor and Lady General Liang Hongyu.
During the course of development, Erhuang of the Han Tone branched into different schools including Ankang, Hanzhong, Shangluo and Guanzhong, with distinguished performers appearing one and after. The roles fall into 10 sorts: mid-aged male, painted face, male, female, clown, outside, the young, secondary female, man and minor roles. The performance is focused on quality and details, with both real and false voices used to produce a prolonged, smooth tone. For the roles of male and old female, real voice is generally used while for the role of female, falsetto is used and for painted face, roaring voice. The tones used are basically Xipi and Erhuang: the former is employed to express the pleasant mood and scenes while the latter sad and grave mood and scenes, producing a happy or saddening tone alternately subject to the plot of performance. The Quiet Setting of accompaniment involves musical instruments of Hu Zither, Erhu, Moon Zither, Three-string, Yuan (stringed instrument), trumpet, flute and horn while the Dynamic Setting concerns those of Teeth Clappers, Wooden Clappers, Bang Drum, Pitch Drum, gong and cymbals. The facial patterns of Erhuang of the Han Tone are many and even outdo those of Peking Opera and Qinqiang Opera, with over 450 already collected now.
According to findings of research, it is believed Erhuang took shape time long ago while having to do with other Pihuang operas and tones. It has exerted a great influence on the origination and development of Sichuan Opera, Anhui Opera and Peking Opera. Over the years, it has had a sharply shrinking audience and run into financial problems and some troupes are declining and dismissed. Now, there is only one troupe in Hanbin District of Ankang City that manages to continue its operation and it is also facing the crisis of being dismissed. Given this fact, it is necessary to issue an urgent call for initiating preservation and salvation actions for this time-honored opera.

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