Reinventing Taiwanese opera
Ming Hwa Yuan (明華園歌仔戲團), the undisputed leader in Taiwanese opera, is edging its way to its first centennial anniversary. The seemingly unattainable milestone is belied by the fact that the family-operated troupe has turned an age-old traditional art form into a source of informative entertainment that resonates with contemporary audiences.
This ability and willingness to evolve encompass the adoption of new theatrical elements such as elaborate costumes and props, and the application of modern technology. The professional use of sound, lighting, and projected English subtitles come together to make Taiwanese opera more accessible to audiences worldwide.
Then there’s innovation within the performance art itself. The fusion of traditional instruments with theater, martial arts, dance, and the highly stylized vocals of Taiwanese opera creates good pacing for the troupe’s two-hour shows, and is reflective of what makes Taiwanese opera an independence performance style.
Taking inspiration from the essence of modern Taiwanese identity, Ming Hwa Yuan has not only steadily produced new works each year, but readily adapts its classic performances to woo local audiences. Its 2014 performance on the outlying Orchid Island, for example, featured actors and actresses from the island’s indigenous Tao tribe.
Ming Hwa Yuan
Established in 1929 by Chen Ming-chi (陳明吉), Ming Hwa Yuan is the leading troupe in the performance genre of Taiwanese opera (Kua á hí, 歌仔戲), a locally developed style of drama in Taiwan. Today, there are 8 sub-groups of Ming Hwa Yuan led by the late Chen’s children … (read more)
Sun Tsui-feng is a Taiwanese opera diva performing with the Ming Hwa Yuan opera troupe. She is one of the few opera actresses in Taiwan that can play both female and male roles, and one of the most-recognized and successful individuals in her field … (read more)