Introducing Novel Features for Chinese Opera

Tseng Yung-i Professor National Taiwan University

In the 68th Year of the Republic (1979) I had known that Miss Kuo Hsiao-chuang had resolutely founded the "Ya Yin Ensemble", adopting "New Life within Tradition" as the principle for her unstinting efforts, uniting people of common interests with the view to opening up new paths for Chinese opera and providing new opportunities for modern opera. With industry and hard work, she makes the Ya Yin Chinese opera that we see shake off the tediousness of talking and singing literature and become neat and crisp; going for tightly knitted structures and the building up of atmosphere, placing the climax at the crucial moment of dilemmas and conflicts; breaking through limitations of characters and typecast roles, making the moulding of characters more lively; under the expression principle of simulating symbolic time and space interchanging naturally, suitably making use of sets and lighting to exaggerate stage settings to strengthen effects of performance; adding Chinese music to enrich civil and martial scenes lineup; using plot to lead to ensemble numbers for expressing changes in time and space and situations; thereby leading the audience on to arouse their deep feelings.

With such Chinese opera as Ya Yin, who can still say that it is "closing itself up in the old way"? Who can say that it "does not fit the concept and spirit of the modern theatre"? And with Chinese opera going for special artistic qualities demanded by the economical theatre for Chinese opera, will not such qualities have more perfect and fuller expression? That is to say, the effort of Kuo Hsiao-chuang is rooted in innovation of the tradition, hence introducing novel features, whereby reintegrating into people's artistic life. Its receiving widespread echoes and support right up to receiving grand prizes repeatedly and gaining renown overseas do not come easily.

I have always admired Kuo Hsiao-chuang's tenacity in treading out a modern path for Chinese opera. Then having read Professor Liu's book written for her, I understand even more clearly the path she had walked down and the direction of her endeavors hence forward are in fact such great sacrifices and struggles, tasting so many times more sufferings and difficulties. I cannot help but pay my utmost respect! I also believe that, given Hsiao-chuang's accomplishments and personality, the art of Chinese opera will certainly prosper in greater glory following her footsteps!