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The Cantonese Opera Tradition

Aditya Valvi, Author

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Modern Importance and Resurrection

Having survived the Tianjing Rebellion, the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution, Cantonese opera is still maintaining its position amongst modern media channels. Not, however, without challenges. Despite its deep roots in the community, Cantonese Opera lacked permanent performing venues, institutional backing from the various cultural and heritage boards, a unifying body and a single authority over the many troupes as well as steady government support.

The future development of Cantonese opera depends on the successful maintenance of its traditional artistic techniques to new generations and the funds to continue to do so. Teaching the artform has been done either through the conventional master-apprentice channel or modern teaching methods. In the past the apprentice had to sign a contract that tied him to the master for three to six years after which the master was entitled to some or all of the graduated apprentice's income for an equivalent term. There was no formal training program and the apprentice was left to observe his master and practice by imitation. Nowadays, pupils enroll in programs with well planned curicula and regular courses on both theory and tecnique offered by experienced artists, guilds and academies. However, as training is expensive and time consuming fewer students are signing up for these programs.

There have been revivalist movements by the Chinese population outside of Hong Kong and China, in places like Toronto and Los Angeles. The influx of chinese immigrants started their journey at Southern ports like Hong Kong Guangzhou and consider Cantonese opera as part of their cultural heritage. However with every generation the links to their ancestry are slowly forgotten.
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