Traditional operas on song on new stages

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail SHINE, June 21, 2020
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Mao Shanyu, director of the Shanghai Huju Opera Troupe and one of the most famous Huju Opera artists, has opened her first Douyin account to promote the city's regional opera which dates back to the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Mao Shanyu, director of the Shanghai Huju Opera Troupe.

"I've never been Internet savvy and it is quite rare for Huju to be performed online," Mao said. "But the epidemic forced us to consider how to promote the traditional art when people cannot meet with each other."

Mao, 58, performed part of her award-winning opera "Daughter of Dunhuang" on Douyin in May. The debut show along with 19 livestreaming broadcasts hosted by the troupe on Douyin has attracted over 280,000 online views.

Videos of other her classic plays, such as "Thunderstorm" and "Top Secret," achieved online audiences of tens of thousands on Bilibili, another popular livestreaming platform.

Doors have been closed at local traditional opera theaters since late January, but new stages have opened up online.

Mao shared the troupe's new performance plans at a public forum on June 13 along with Gao Bowen, director of the Shanghai Pingtan Troupe and Zhang Fan, director of the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe.

In another measure to promote traditional Chinese opera in the wake of COVID-19, the Huju Opera troupe plans to present a series of "immersive" performances at Pai's Mansion on 150 Fenyang Road in Xuhui District. It was built in 1919 and is now the troupe's new home.

"This beautiful architecture inspires us to invite the public to come to feel the flavor of the city," Mao said.

Huju Opera, performed in Shanghai dialect, was initially created to promote the latest social news and stories mainly at local historical villas and in the city's lane-style communities.

"So, the historical villa is an ideal site to perform traditional opera," she said.

The Pai's Mansion on 150 Fenyang Road in Xuhui District was built in 1919 and now serves as the new premises for the Shanghai Huju Opera Troupe.

The house, designed by renowned architect Laszlo Hudec, gained its name because Kuomintang General Pai Chung-hsi lived there in the 1940s. It was initially owned by Michel Speelman, a Frenchman who was chairman of the Committee for Assistance of European Jewish Refugees in Shanghai.

The China Art Academy took it over from the Pai family. The Shanghai Yueju Opera House was next, followed by a trendy restaurant. The Huju opera troupe moved there late last year.

The troupe has been presenting performances on small stages and on the Internet since the COVID-19 outbreak in late January, Mao said. Four mini-plays have been presented online, mainly stories of the city's medical teams to Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province as well as citizens and volunteers at local communities.

"Young artists have opened accounts on Douyin, Weibo, and host livestream broadcasts to mainly attract young audiences," Mao said. The troupe's Douyin account has been followed by over 16,000 fans and received over 110,000 likes.

The livestreaming broadcast hosted by Shanghai Huju Opera Troupe has attract over 280,000 online views.

"The epidemic is ruthless, but it offers an opportunity for traditional culture to explore new ways of development," she said.

"No matter on what new platform, the core part is always traditional Huju Opera," she added.

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