Performing arts

Qianju Opera of Guizhou Province

Updated: Aug 21, 2017 Chinaculture.org Print
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Qianju Opera is a local folk art form that originated and prevailed in Guizhou. It is a new type of drama based on Guizhou Yangqin (dulcimer), with performers sitting and singing according to different roles.

In July 1950, in Dading County (currently Dafang County), Guizhou Province, the Qin Opera libretto "Hatred of the Poor" was selected and adapted to the tune and colloquial dialect of a dulcimer play (Guizhou dulcimer), accompanied by musical instruments, such as the dulcimer, Sanxian (three-stringed plucked instrument), Huqin (two-stringed bowed instrument) and performed with a board, drum and "touching bell" together. The piece was very well received by the masses. This combination of Guizhou's dulcimer music with theatrical arts was performed for the first time and began a precedent for stage performances of the drama.

In the winter of 1952, fans of Guizhou dulcimer in Qianxi County, Guizhou Province, rehearsed "Love for One Hundred Days" and "Leaving the Poor Kiln" for the stage. The genre was called "Wenqin Drama", causing a great sensation in the whole county. Such performances marked the birth of "Wenqin Drama" and were regarded as the anniversary of Qianju Opera.

In April 1954, the amateur "Wenqin Drama" troupe of Qianxi County, Guizhou Province -- the first toupe of its kind -- was established. In May 1956, the first professional troupe, "Wenqin Drama" troupe of Qianxi County, Guizhou Province, emerged, indicating a new historical stage of "Wenqin Drama". In the next several years, professional and amateur Wenqin Drama troupes sprouted up in succession like bamboo shoots after a spring shower.

In 1959 the "Wenqin Drama" troupe of Qianxi County, Guizhou Province, visited Sichuan Province on behalf of the local opera of Guizhou. During the performances in Chongqing and Chengdu, the opera received high praise from literary and arts circle of Sichuan Province. In February 1960, the former "Wenqin Drama" was formally renamed "Qianju Opera," and "Wenqin Drama" has since been regarded as the local opera of Guizhou Province. The elite of Qianju Opera from the whole province then converged to establish the Qianju Opera Troupe of Guizhou Province. In June of the same year, the Qianju Opera Troupe of Guizhou Province gave a performance in Beijing, receiving recognition from sSate leaders, experts and artists from the arts world. As a new local opera type from Guizhou Province, Qianju Opera became a rare flower in Chinese drama.

"Qin Niangmei," a classic and representative piece of Qianju Opera, was performed in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Suzhou and the influence of Qianju Opera in the whole country was much improved. The film "Qin Niangmei" was also featured in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macao. Later, another representative theatrical piece of Qianju Opera, "Mrs. Shexiang," graced the Beijing stage to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The piece received unanimous favorable comments from experts, scholars and other circles in the capital city. It also won the first prize for performance and production awarded by the Ministry of Culture.

The Qianju Opera troupe then visited Inner Mongolia, Ninggxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang to carry on with its performances, receiving warm welcome and high praise from five provinces and six cities in the northwest region. Qianju Opera, in turn, exerted a relatively great influence in the country yet again.

The opera's dialogue is simple, unadorned and cordial; the vocals are lucid and elegant. With 30 years of artistic efforts, a singing system with Yangdiao, Erban, Kubin, Erhuang (chief types of vocal music in traditional Chinese operas) has taken a shape, making Qianju Opera not only good at displaying traditional costume plays and operas with contemporary themes, but also in performing folktale dramas with ethnic-minority themes, and newly organized historical plays. Under the care of leaders, experts and artists from theatrical circles, the troupe has made a remarkable contribution to the growth and development of Qianju Opera. The inscription of former premier Zhou Enlai for Qianju Opera has become the troupe's mantra.

Address: No.114, South Ruijin Road, Guiyang, Guizhou Province

Tel: 0851-5812028

Zip code: 550003


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