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Music From China
"Cantonese Opera"

Music From China will perform Cantonese Opera on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.

Actors in full costume perform selections from Cantonese opera classics! This unique chamber ensemble invokes the subtlety and power of both traditional and contemporary Chinese music with an affinity for the eclectic. “Music From China is music from heaven.” –Kansas City Star

Chinese opera, known as xiju, captures the imagination by combining singing, music, stylized acting, movement, mime, colorful costumes and makeup into a spectacular theatrical art form. Yueju, or Cantonese opera, is indigenous to the Cantonese speaking people of the southern province of Guangdong. Since the Cantonese historically made up the bulk of Chinese émigrés and sojourners to all parts of southeast Asia and throughout the world, Yueju is the oldest and longest performing art tradition of the Chinese diaspora.

Two professional actors Cindy Huang and Wai-wah Lo demonstrate the stylized acting of xiju with prescribed gestures and body movements, followed by performance of an excerpt from the Cantonese opera The Jade Bracelet. This is the charming story of how a young man woos a coquettish village maiden, with a jade bracelet becoming the go-between.

The unique singing style of Yueju is further demonstrated in a solo aria Qingwen Mends a Cape sung in the female falsetto voice called zihou. An orchestra made up of 2-string fiddles, bamboo winds, moon guitars, a hammered dulcimer, and percussion instruments accompanies the singer.

Xiju music also provides thematic material and inspiration for many instrumental compositions and arrangements. Music From China’s Artistic Director Wang Guowei leads the ensemble in instrumental arrangements with themes borrowed from various xiju styles, including The General’s Command and Medley of Cantonese Opera Tunes (Yueju), Beijing Opera Tunes (Jingju), and Song of Henan (Yuju).

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