“Ah Jhune…… wanna take pictures of a Chinese opera troupe this Sunday ? ”

I just got to know Philip recently. This guy shares similar interests with me on food (we eat a lot) and photography. We talked about Chinese Opera that day and that it would be fantastic to go behind the scenes and observe the preparations, the make up etc.

What i did not know is that Philip is really serious about Chinese Opera. He knows some of the characters and i think he has been lurking around in the corners, quietly gathering information. Who knows, he might like to perform one day.

This is a dying art in Asia. Before televisions and internet…… this is entertainment, with its roots dating back hundreds of years. Not only that, it also celebrates history through its story telling, spreading messages of love, hate, filial piety, revenge and morals. Today, its no longer popular among the young. Its songs, the dialects……they do not seem to fit into the fast pace life that we are having.

Having grew up on a diet of sweet teeny bopper music, to Roarrrr-in-your-face heavy metal, to the smooth jazz of today. I could not find space to appreciate Chinese Opera. Heck, even my 93 year old grandma could not find time for it, she’ll rather be watching CSI Miami……

Thau Yong 陶融儒乐社 is a Teochew Opera Toupe. Started in August of 1931 by 18 young passionate immigrants, it is one of the last few to be still active today 82 years…… Its secretary-manager, Ms Lee Yong En, laments to fact that its hard to get an audience, let alone infuse new blood, new actors/actresses.

“Its a long road downhill” Phillip explained. But i see otherwise that night, the passion of the actors and actresses were infectious. The audience were early, many armed with cameras (Ok, many are friends and family…..) We even have a 12 year old boy making his debut in the opera scene. Bravo !!!!!

L1001683Waiting for the make up

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Part of the hair piece, prep with starch to keep its shape.

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Ms Loh Lang King was loads of fun with her jokes and cool demeanor.

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Mr Xu Qian He. He’s the one on my cover. The guy with the beard.

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Before i left, Ms Cai Shu Hui has the best head dress ! I want !

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Best seats in the house……reserved !!

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There’s even a choir to kick things off !! Opening acts are not limited to concerts !! hehe.

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Jenny looks really good. Charisma and everything.

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The 12 year old debutant, Wee Kiat, with his assertive voice. Philip told me that for a first timer, the boy shows no fear. Grandma was busy taking pictures of her grandson, her smile beaming from left to right. I cannot even speak Teochew properly and here is this 12 year old singing like a bird. Bright future ahead 🙂

I left before the start of the performance with much thoughts in my head. This obviously takes a lot of time to rehearse, a lot of preparation work with the costumes and the make up. All these might be lost once this generation of actors/actresses pass on. A few hundred years of history and culture….pooffff ………

How do we keep people interested ?

*Scratch scratch………..I have ask my grandma to CSI this…..

Written by urbanarchiver

Curious about things around me, interested in photography, likes to eat, read comics, cut out newspaper articles, me travel a lot, like to crack lousy jokes, likes to be alone, trying to run a mile in 20 mins, hate chill peppers, crazy for fashion, not enough money, has a Leica, like contradictions.

7 comments

  1. Awesome photos! This definitely brings back memories when my dad used to do this. I can almost still hear him practicing in the middle of the night 🙂 It is infectious…I used to know a bit also…Its a challenging art to learn.

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