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Chinatown Opera Theater in North America$
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Nancy Yunhwa Rao

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040566

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040566.001.0001

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Aesthetics, Repertoire, Roles, and Playbills

Aesthetics, Repertoire, Roles, and Playbills

(p.79) Chapter 4 Aesthetics, Repertoire, Roles, and Playbills
Chinatown Opera Theater in North America

Nancy Yunhwa Rao

University of Illinois Press

This chapter provides a survey of Cantonese opera, its connection to other genres of Chinese opera, its music, repertoire, vocal style, accompanying instruments, etc. Because the performance practice changed over time, this chapter draws from a wealth of primary and secondary documents to offer a working knowledge of Cantonese opera as it was practiced in North American during the 1920s. Over 1000 Chinese playbills from San Francisco, New York City, Vancouver, Seattle and Havana between 1917 and 1929 provide the foundation for understanding the popular repertoire during the time. In addition, commentaries in Chinese newspapers, as well as memoirs and oral histories from veteran performers reveal much about the historical performance practice. Taken together, these resources form the basis of an understanding of the Cantonese opera in this period ranging from the increased usage of stage backdrops and stage props, a gradual shift of popular role types and vocal styles, and popular novel repertoire types. A reflection on the significance of daily opera playbill closes the chapter.

Keywords:   playbill, libretto, vocal style, instrument, role types, stage backdrop, stage prop, realism, muyushu, script, ritual, plot-outline, paichang

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