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How long can the Tiqin Opera Survive 11-11-01

  Reported by Wang Li and Chen Dayin (

  On 23rd, a girl was born in a family in the pedestrian street of Tiancheng Town, Chongyong County. The family called in the Chongyang Wenchang Tiqin Opera Troupe, and they performed from the afternoon to the night. The melodious tone flow in the air, and the neighbors all gathered there just like what they did when the operas were performed at festival.

  The Popularity of the Tiqin Opera with the Masses

  The Chongyang Tiqin Opera troupe is not big, its musical instruments are simple, and it does not have many actors. It is very suitable to give performances in rural areas, particularly, the mountain areas where people scatter around are more appropriate. In addition, the singing is beautiful and plain, the music is short and neat, and the melody is bright and smooth. It has strong local characteristics and flavor and therefore is loved by the masses.

  “The Tiqin Opera is very popular in Chongyang County and Tongcheng County. When people have new-born babies, host birthday parties for the elderly or weddings, or even the elderly pass away, many of them are willing to call in an opera troupe to activate the atmosphere.”  Yu Yaguang, the head of the Wenchang Tiqin Opera Troupe, spends most the time of a year in leading the troupe to perform in other places. “We give at least 200 performances every year.”

  “The Tiqin Opera is the local opera of Tongcheng County and Congyang County which makes the people feel the most intimate. It has become the indispensable spiritual and cultural nourishment for the masses." Rao Haoliang, the vice president of the Chongyang County Tiqin Opera Association, said on 24.

  Rao Haoliang recalled that in 2007, a troupe performed from the afternoon to the night. The income of each performance was about 1,600 yuan, and now that is about 2,500 yuan. Although the price is higher, the families which can afford to call in a troupe are willing to do so when encountered with weddings or funerals. Even the least famous troupe can have dozens of performances every year. “The people’s love towards the traditional singing of the Tiqin Opera was no less than that of the past!” said Rao Haoliang with a smile.

  The Difficulties in Keeping the Tradition

  According to Rao Haoliang, although there are 83 formally established folk Tiqin Opera troupes and over 1,600 actors at present, the number of troupes which insist the year-round performance is not more than 15, and of the 15 troupes, only 2 troupes strictly adopt the traditional singing of the Tiqin Opera while the other troupes have more or less changed greatly the tune of the Tiqin Opera.

  “This has much to do with the current situation,” said Yu Yaguang. In the traditional Tiqin Opera, the singing of the male actor counts more. However, nowadays, the number of male actors is far less than that of the actresses. Therefore, the whole opera’s charm is not as intense as that of the traditional one when the singing of the actresses increases in the opera and in the ratio of the role distribution.

  However, among the masses, the traditional singing of the Tiqin Opera is still the most popular. Therefore, now many Tiqin Opera troupes are far from meeting the masses’ traditional pursuit of the Tiqin Opera. The actors are few and the operation of the troupes gets into dilemma.

  Lacking of Successors

  Speaking of the troupe's future, Yu Yaguang used the words “temporary shortage” to describe it. There are more than 20 actors in the troupe, and the oldest is over 50 years old, while the youngest are the apprentices who have just come to the troupe and can only play supporting roles on the stage.,

  "It is difficult to recruit people and to train them after they have been accepted." Speaking of the development of the troupe, Yu Yaguang used only a few words. As the best Tiqin Opera troupe in Chongyang County, Yu Yaguang knows exactly the difficulties of the development. Nowadays, seldom do children really want to learn Tiqin Opera. Many junior school students, after giving up their studies, go directly to work in the economically developed coastal cities and are seldom want to stay in the county to learn the opera.

  Yu YaGuang said, the county’s cultural department often organized training classes for people to learn the Tiqin Opera in the past. Each time, people can learn one or two small-size operas. However, although there are children who love arts, with the cancellation of the training classes, they have lost many favorable factors for them to achieve the dream of Tiqin Opera. Currently, the troupe can only rely on it own strength to recruit some apprentices.

  "The investment in these fields is lacking," said a related person. The concerned authorities once thought to recruit a number of Tiqin Opera actors in the schools. However, after careful calculation, they found it impossible to work out if they don’t have enough financial backing to pay for the cost of training actors, organizing troupe, performing, developing actors and so on.

  The Lacking of Mechanism

  In recent years, the state has advocated the development of the cultural environment, but the concerned authorities have not carried out clear protection measures on the Chongyang Tiqin Opera.

  In 2009, the Chongyang Tiqin Opera Matching the Parting Lotus was broadcasted on CCTV and Hubei TV Station. Local opera was broadcasted on CCTV, which was the first time in the history of Chongyang.

  Because of the enthusiastic response of Tiqin Opera in the country, some people urged to write down the bad practices in the modern life, edit them into articles and drama, and propagate them more often in the urban and rural areas. “Making full use of the enlightenment of the Tiqin Opera and combining the tradition with the time is a good way,” said Rao Haoliang.

  However, they did not find a person to write the scripts. That is not because no one can write scripts, instead that the relevant departments are not equipped with a living allowance for these people. "When people have difficulties to make a living, they will not go to the creation of spiritual nourishment." said a person who is ambitious with a sigh. In the Baini Town of Chongyang County, an old folk Tiqin Opera artist has devoted all his life to the Tiqin Opera. However, when he is old, he has to rely on the subsistence allowance that others have helped him to get.

  As for the heritage of traditional culture, Chongyang County Association of Tiqin Opera has advocated several times that all the Tiqin Opera troupes of the county should sing the traditional tune. However, these proposals often don’t turn out very well. If you sing well, you won’t get a reward, and if you don’t sing well, there is no punishment. Therefore, the troupes sing what they like, and our appeal is equivalent to none.” Rao Haoliang said with frustration.

  Most of the folk artists go to the stage to perform without rehearsal. Such kind of spot performances makes the quality of the current Tiqin Opera hard to be improved. “There is no protection and incentive mechanism. The heritage of the Tiqin Opera can merely rely on the actors’ love for the career and it is difficult to make innovation and achievements.” Rao Haoliang said.

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