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Explore Mao Opera in Shandong province

Here on Culture Express we provide a variety of Chinese traditional art, from fine art to popular or local folk art. Today, we’ll introduce the Mao Opera in Shandong Province. We head to Jiaozhou city in the east of the province for the story.

As a Popular among eastern cities like Qingdao and Yantai, the traditional opera has a history of nearly 300 years old. It was listed as a National Cultural Heritage Item in 2006, and has been hailed as the "Flower of Eastern Shandong".

Qingdao Mao Opera Troupe recently preformed in South Korea, celebrating the 19th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

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Mao Opera in Shandong Province

However, the glory of Mao Opera has undergone twists and turns.

Liu Zongtao, director of Qingdao Mao Opera Troupe, said, "In the past, like 20 years ago, Mao Opera was fading and its market was shrinking. But the worst is brain drain. No young people like to learn about it."

Han Tingshun, director of Jiaozhou Mao Opera Troupe, said, "Mao Opera has a variety of tones and ranges. Even if you have been learning it from a very young age, it would be hard to perform well."

A rescuing project was carried out in eastern Shandong, preforming the opera in college lecture rooms to attract youth interest.

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Mao Opera in Shandong Province

The artform itself has also changed, adding performing styles from Peking Opera and other Chinese traditional operas. Musical elements have also been refreshed.

Liu Zongtao said, "While keeping the original flavor of Mao Opera, we always think of ways to blend in what the audience likes. Our goal is to keep it alive among the audiences."

Best of all, preformers love to take part in the recreation of history.

An audience member said, "I started to like Mao Opera when I was a boy. Every time the music rings out, I feel happy deep from my heart."

The Qingdao Mao Opera Troupe has more than 300 shows per year.

Source: CNTV
2012. Jan. 10

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