Cantonese Opera, which has been recognized by UNESCO, involves music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting. Artists and teachers from Guangzhou's Cantonese Opera Troupes last Sunday gave an introduction and demonstration to this local art in the latest episode of the "Guangzhou Flavor" Forum. The forum was organized by the Guangzhou Library and the Information Office of the Guangzhou Municipal Government.
The event focused on the development of the Cantonese Opera and the practice of applying make-up on masks instead of painting directly on the face.
The first guest, Yu Yong (余勇), is the chairman of the Guangzhou Cantonese Opera Troupe Ltd. Co. He said that the 500-year-old art appeared earlier than the Peking Opera. Despite its long history and wide range of audiences, it now is experiencing a low following. "The Guangzhou Government has given great support to the art," he said. "A new museum will be built and two theaters will be established in the Machang Lu (Zhujiang New Town). The Cantonese Opera cruise, 'Red Boat,' will being sailing in February. I am confident about the future of the Cantonese Opera.”
Ou Kaiming (欧凯明) is both a talented actor in the field and the head of the Guangzhou Red Bean Cantonese Opera Troupe. He had won dozens of China' s high-level arts awards, which have proven his maturity and skill in his profession. He emphasized that the charm of the art is alive in its Cantonese singing, and in that way it is like the beautiful poetry of the ancient Chinese language. Opera is still active overseas for the reason that a large number of Chinese emigrants speak Cantonese. He said, "In addition to inheriting the traditional theaters, Cantonese Opera also derives from modern themed stories to increase its market share."
The young actress Wu Feifan (吴非凡) was born to a family of Cantonese Opera performers. She was attracted by the beautiful headwear and began her professional learning at the age of 9. She found it difficult to survive with the salary being paid, though, after graduating from school at the age of 16. Thus she continued to finish her university study and left the stage for four years. However she returned to the stage and become a more complete actress, thanks to her talent and diligence. Wu encouraged people to buy tickets to appreciate Cantonese Opera, and explained that it takes at least 15 years of hard word and practice for someones to become a qualified actor or actress. Regular shows are performed every weekend in the Nanfang Theater.
In the interactive session, participants attempted to paint the mask of Zhang Fei (张飞), a military officer and character from the Three Kingdoms period. Two simple colors of black and red were used to present the loyalty of the character. The instructor taught participants how to draw the outline and bulk of the black color with white color, to avoid the error of overbearing dark color. However, the host humorously described the masks as "contemporary artworks" when the interesting and creative masks were produced by the participants.