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Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong

By the end of the 19th Century, some Cantonese opera artists left Guangzhou for Hong Kong and the popular theatres in Hong Kong during that period included: the Sing Ping Theatre, the Ko Sing Theatre and the Chung Hing Theatre. In the 1920s, some large and important troupes were very active in the three regions of Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong. During 1930s and 1940s, Sit Kok Sin’s “Kok Sin Sing Opera Troupe” and Ma Sze Tsang’s “Tai Ping Opera Troupe” had performed a wide repertoire ranging from traditional classics to new plays. Both troupes had greatly graced the world of Cantonese opera by making outstanding achievements in terms of librettos, costumes, music, stage design and acting styles.
During the Second World War (1939-1945), lots of people in the Cantonese opera profession came to Hong Kong and Macau. From then, Cantonese opera started to develop in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou separately. As for Hong Kong, Cantonese operas were performed at theatres and bamboo sheds on one hand; on the other hand, many Cantonese operas had been adapted for the big screen and a good number of Cantonese opera films were produced. During 1950s and 1960s, there had been a rapid development of Cantonese opera and a lot of renowned artists emerged. The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong (also known as the “Pat Wo Association”) was established in 1953 to further promote the art of Cantonese opera. From late 1960s to early 1970s, Cantonese opera had experienced a decline until its rejuvenation in the late 1970s. In recent decades, since there has been an increase in new venues and new audiences, Cantonese opera has enjoyed an encouraging development in Hong Kong. Since 1990s, numerous amateur Cantonese opera performing groups emerged. In 1995, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC) was established. As a statutory body to plan, promote and support the broad development of the arts in Hong Kong, ADC has dedicated much efforts in promoting Cantonese operas, such as subsidizing local arts practitioners and arts organizations. Recently, it has also launched the “Xiqu Education Project” to stimulate the next generation’s interests in and knowledge of Cantonese opera.
In 2009, Cantonese opera was officially inscribed onto UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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