Source of Yangge Opera

Updated: 2010- 03- 23

  Jiangxi: Source of Yangge Opera 

  ( ) - Yangge is a well-known traditional Chinese dance, but have you ever heard of Yangge Opera? This ancient folk art has been discovered in the nick of time, since it's on the brink of extinction.
  Yangge Opera actually has nothing to do with the dance. It originated around 700 years ago and was extremely popular in ancient times. But now, only a few aged men, living in Beijing's suburban Mentougou District, can still sing it.
  This is Baiyu Village, nestled among the hills one hundred kilometers from China's bustling capital. And these elderly men are the only ones who can still sing Yangge Opera. The oldest is already 83 years old, and the youngest, 64. They've sung the opera their whole lives, yet they know little about its history or origins.
  A Yangge Opera Singer said, "I don't know when it originated, nor how it developed. Not only me, most of them know nothing."
  According to history books, an officer called Yu Ji, who lived in east China's Jiangxi Province in the time of the Song Dynasty, and a Beijing local, integrated Jiangxi folk opera with Beijing's Yan Opera to create a new style - Yangge Opera.
  Passed down orally through the generations, only 50 Yangge Opera works have been preserved. Three tell the story of old Beijing, and five incredibly long pieces can be sung for a day and night. In its heyday, Yangge Opera was brought into the Forbidden City to celebrate the 60th birthday of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong in 1771. But, amid the onslaught of wars, it gradually fell into decline. And now, with China's younger generations focused on education and working in the big city, little interest remains in learning the ancient art.