Hong Kong a metropolis of high rises and a commercial hub this is often associated when you ask foreigners about Hong Kong. Most of them don’t associate it immediately with performing arts and arts in general. But this has changed in the last years. The yearly arts fair and the Arts Festival in Hong Kong have changed this a lot. This is a significant growing part and Cantonese Opera is part of this cultural landscape.
Regardless of the different and well received western troupes coming to Hong Kong its culture and heritage remains Chinese nevertheless. One of the most obvious is the Cantonese Opera which has had a revival lately.
Cantonese Opera derives from China’s earliest folk theatres, music and dance like Kun Qu Opera as one of the oldest. Cantonese Opera and its actors, especially the singing performers present the stories in form of music and dance. The stories and plots were mostly developed during Yuan and Ming Dynasty. This kind of Opera can be divided in different types: Cantonese Opera, Beijing Opera, Chiu Chow Opera etc.
The different kind of Operas undergoes intensive training to get a high pitched falsetto. Apart from this they need skills in gesturing and movements, which are important as well. These movements include mime, dance action, sword play and acrobatics.
The costumes are a vital part of the Cantonese Opera. The costumes are exaggerated and are for an enhanced theatrical effect. The actors wear embroidered and elaborate robes and headdresses. The shoes are very high, kind of platform shoes. The costumes are in different colors, which represent divers ranks, status and personalities. To give you one example the color yellow are for emperors the color purple would be for me – a barbarian.