Huangmeixi

(Hubei-Anhui-Jiangxi sung-drama/opera)
Huangmeixi is a local regional style of traditional drama found in Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi, Jiangsu and other provinces. It began as a small-scale folk form of theatre in the villages along the Anhui—Hubei—Jiangxi borders, the place and time of first performance probably being Huangmei in Hubei during the nineteenth century. It did not reach the cities until the 1920s. The PRC sponsored Huangmeixi, quickly setting up some thirty professional troupes. In 1983 there were about fifty professional troupes, the number rising by 1990 to fifty-three, in addition to four schools. There are also many village folk troupes, which perform during festival times (see temple fairs). Since the 1980s, various levels of central and local government have invested considerable amounts of money in maintaining and enhancing the vitality of Huangmeixi against the challenges of modernization, which have tended to reduce its popularity, especially among urban people and youth. This money has gone into propaganda campaigns that have included competitions and festivals.
Initially, only percussion accompanied Huangmeixi singing.
However, the orchestra adopted instruments from other parts of China, and even the West. The singing voice is natural, and the music is soft, melodious and hence accessible. The costumes are colourful and the performance techniques marked by their soft and emotional expressiveness. Several Huangmeixi items have been recorded or filmed. Under the PRC, many traditional and modern themes have been incorporated into the Huangmeixi. One particularly well-known item is based directly on the novel Honglou meng (The Dream of the Red Chamber).
Anhuisheng wenxue yishu yanjiusuo (1983). Huangmeixi xinqiang jieshao. Hefei: Anhui renmin chubanshe.
Qi, Mingcong and Qi, Kebin (1988). Zenyang yanchang Huangmeixi. Hefei: Anhui wenyi chubanshe.
Shi, Bailin (1993). Huangmeixi yinyue gailun. Beijing: Renmin yinyue chubanshe.
Shi, Jinan and Zhu, Yufen (1985). Huangmeixi yilin. Beijing: Zhongguo guangbo dianshi chubanshe.
COLIN MACKERRAS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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