Cantonese opera regales Jurong senior residents

by Our Neighbourhood
Cantonese opera regales Jurong senior residents

A full house of 400 seniors celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie in Mandarin) with a Cantonese opera performance at the Taman Jurong Community Hall.

At the event held on September 8, guest of honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development, and Jurong GRC Adviser, shared that he’s of Hokkien heritage but still enjoys Cantonese operas.

The festival also coincided with the end of the autumn harvest, marking the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival, which occurs during the seventh lunar month. The day of the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally thought to be auspicious for weddings.

One of the most celebrated Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival – jointly hosted by Taman Jurong, Jurong Spring and Yuhua CC Women Executive Committees – featured lantern processions and mooncakes in a range of flavours. In addition to the folk performance, guests were given mooncakes.

Most people think of Cantonese opera as an art form enjoyed by older folks, one that is more elegiac than it is eye-catching. But undergraduate Josephine Liew, 22, enjoyed the three-hour performance, and interest in the art form is still strong. She added: “I remember, when I was little, my family would bring me to the ‘big wayang show’ and I was intrigued by the backdrop, props, lighting and even fighting scenes.”

Michelle Wee, one of the organisers, said: “We find that the opera with a strong connection to Chinese cultural roots is still relevant to residents. The sell-out crowd, even with tickets at $5, highlights its popularity despite serious competition from more modern forms of entertainment.”

One of the major styles of Chinese opera, the Cantonese version is a highly respected and much-loved art form that blends legend, music and drama into a vibrant performance style that’s rich with symbolic meaning and very popular with audiences in southern China and parts of South-east Asia.

Tourist James Werner, 66, from Darwin, Australia, who was a rare non-Chinese at the Sunday event, says when it comes to evoking the mystery and charm of ancient China, few art forms can compare to Chinese opera.

He said: “I’m impressed, although I don’t follow the opera lines. I think the traditional Chinese performance art in the form of Cantonese opera continues to stay relevant as a beautiful and timeless craft, especially with its kaleidoscopic costumes, distinctive singing punctuated by plenty of gongs, and intricate gestures rich with symbolism.”