Rapport Series VII: Yang Li-hua
Yang Li-hua and her disciple Chen Ya-lan
Yang Li-hua (楊麗花), known as the “Living National Treasure” of Taiwanese opera, is a Taiwanese opera singer, producer, and actress whose career has spanned more than half a century. Having cross-dressed for numerous roles in the past decades, Yang’s handsome looks and outstanding performances have left a lasting impression on audiences.
As a veteran of cross-dressing performances, Yang served as leader of TTV Taiwanese Opera Troupe and recruited and mentored young Taiwanese opera performers. Her greatest disciple, Chen Ya-lan (陳亞蘭), has continued Yang’s techniques of cross-dressing performances by becoming one of the best Taiwanese opera singers today.
Born to a family that ran a Taiwanese opera troupe in 1965, Chen was introduced to traditional folk culture at an early age. Chen started performing in her family’s troupe when she was young and picked up a lot of Taiwanese slang, which is an important element of Taiwanese opera.
When Chen was 21, she was invited by China Television Company, Ltd to play a cameo role in its production. Her performance attracted the attention of Yang, who also worked for the company at that time. Yang invited Chen to join the troupe and gave her the stage name Ya-lan.
Under Yang’s mentorship, Chen improved significantly and impressed the audience with her cross-dressing performances and singing skills. Two years after joining the troupe, Chen played an important role in a production, which established her fame and saw her hailed as Yang’s successor.
During her time in the troupe, Yang encouraged Chen to try various roles to challenge herself and discover her potential. In 1991, Chen and Yang staged a production for the first time together at the National Theater. In 1997, Chen was selected as one of the Most Outstanding Asian Artists.
Later, Chen also showed her talents in acting and TV hosting. In the past decades, Chen has participated in about 27 Taiwanese opera TV dramas, one film, 25 TV series, six indoor Taiwanese opera performances, as well as hosting sixteen shows and releasing ten studio albums.
After being active in showbiz for some years, Chen gave up her shows in 2010 to return to the Taiwanese opera business as commissioned by Yang. In 2012, Chen produced and played the lead role in “Dragon Legend (天龍傳奇),” which attracted fans from younger generations and opened a new chapter for Taiwanese opera TV dramas.
At present, Chen and Yang, who returned to the Taiwanese opera scene in 2016, are determined to revitalize the dwindling Taiwanese opera scene and cultivate young talent to pass down this cultural heritage of Taiwan.
Yang Li-hua is a renowned Taiwanese opera singer best known for her cross-dressing performances. Yang is also one of the most active performers in Taiwanese opera drama and radio … (read more)