Creating New Voice in Rainbow Costume and Refined Tune

Chiang Yen-shih Political Advisor to the President

Chinese Opera is a composite art nurtured by the Chinese culture. It combines the Kun Chu, Chuang Chi and Han Drama passed down by the three dynasties of Yuan, Ming and Ching; as well as assimilating the essence of various regional operas. From Huang Pi and Huang Kang of Hupei Province, it spread gradually to Peking . Accepted by the royalty and nobility of the time, it therefore developed vigorously among the court and the commonality respectively. This operatic art form of 'not one sound unsung, not one movement undanced' appreciated by both high and low brows has not only grown into an activity commonly loved by all compatriots, but has also, through the combined efforts of many performing arts and creative/directing talents at grand master level, further become recognized by people of different nations in the world.

The rise and development of Chinese opera in Taiwan has its foundation mainly in the Government's enhancing recreational activities of the military forces after its move to Taiwan. Over this period there have also been renowned Chinese opera actors coming from the Mainland to Taiwan, overcoming difficulties and contributing considerable mental and physical efforts for the development of the operatic movement.

When I was Minister of Education in the 61st year of the Republic (1972), I saw that in the Taiwan region talents in Chinese operatic art abounded and activities were many and frequent, but that a key for access to compete on the international stage was lacking. Hence in the 62nd year (1973) I decided to select young talents in the field of Chinese opera for nurturing into excellent performing artists, and to encourage them to form groups for performing tours overseas, so as to fulfill the historic mission of spreading Chinese culture overseas.

Upon cautious selection, Ta-Peng Drama Troupe was the first to be selected, and Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang was one of the finest actors of that Troupe. The authorities concerned were resolved to give strong assistance again. In the 65th year (1976), with her outstanding performance in operatic art, Kuo Hsiao-chuang became the first Chinese opera actress to be sponsored by the Ministry of Education to study at the University of Chinese Culture. She then progressed to perform on overseas tours to strengthen her experience and contributions in performing art.

Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang also possesses a flourishing sense of enterprise. Having studied the operatic art in depth, she assembled classmates and colleagues, overcoming thousands of difficulties, and founded the first private Chinese opera organization in the Taiwan Region íV the "Ya Yin Ensemble" which combined traditional Chinese opera and modern theater. Their innovative performances attracted numerous young people to gradually understand and fervently love Chinese opera. It has become a trend for young people to watch Chinese opera shows. The passing on of the legacy of Chinese operatic art has thus shown renewed liveliness. At the same time, the performances of "Ya Yin" have created a brand new style, largely enhancing the artistic value and attraction of Chinese opera. Outstanding contribution is thus made in the sustaining and development of the art of Chinese opera.

Over the years, under Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang's leadership, and the co-operation of many Troupe members, "Ya Yin Ensemble" has often toured overseas. Wherever they go they become the rage for tens of thousands of foreign and overseas Chinese audience. Their contribution to the spread of Chinese opera art overseas is worthy of note.

It is true that artistic creation is fraught with difficulty. And the Chinese opera group "Ya Yin Ensemble" founded by Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang has tasted every sweet and bitter experience. In my opinion, as a young female artist, Hsiao-chuang proves capable of overcoming all the difficulties without fear and achieves success. This dedication and sacrifice for the modernization of artistic life with no turning back is really most impressive.

Today, Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang has made a detailed record of her course of her struggle and published the book "Kuo Hsiao-chuang's Resounding Ya Yin". Through this I learn of the bitter-sweat of her struggle and success. Hence I gladly contribute this preface.