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Hunan Huagu Opera, Performing Art of the Masses


With a history of more than 200 years, Hunan Huagu Opera is a famous local opera of central China's Hunan province. It has a complete set of roles, various arias and very strong expressive power. It is a unique traditional local art form of wide popularity in central and eastern China.


Development of Hunan Huagu Opera


Huagu Opera has developed from simple folk songs and dances to an influential local opera capable of play interpretations. Accompanying simple play plots, Huagu Opera's basic arias are based on the tunes of the local folk songs sung in the mountains and fields. But due to more intricate plots and the need to express the complicated feelings and thoughts of characters in plays, these basic arias have developed into different genres of tunes with different rhythms.


The early Huagu Opera troupes were mainly composed of semi-professional members engaged in seasonal performances. In the busy farming season, they farmed, while in the slack season they performed.



Features of Hunan Huagu Opera


Derived from Hunan folk songs, Huagu Opera has developed from a two-role drama (a female and a clown) to a three-role drama (a young female, a young male and a clown). There are more than 400 traditional plays and 300 tunes in the repertoire. According to their formal structure and musical style, these tunes can be divided into four types: Chuan Diao, Daluoqiang, Paizi and Xiaodiao, all of which own a plain and straight forward local color.


Small Suona and percussions are the main accompanying instruments. The tunes are brisk and lively, particularly suitable to dancing-singing operas.


Famous Plays of Hunan Huagu Opera


Huagu Opera has greatly thrived during the past decades. There are over 400 Huagu Opera traditional plays. Traditional plays like Killing a Bird have been collected and re-performed, while modern plays like Sanliwan have been created. Also, a number of repertoires like Beating the Bronze Gong and Repairing the Pan have been made into films.


With a strong appreciation of life and the local color, Hunan Huagu Opera has a very deep foundation in the masses of people. More and more people like Hunan Huagu Opera because of their beautiful sounding melody, an accessible language, lively and simple performing arts, and can reflect real lives.


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