Saturday, 19 August 2017

Noah Shahar | Chinese Opera

Photo © Noah Shahar | All Rights Reserved
Chinese opera has a long history in Thailand, which is home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world. Bangkok's Chinatown roving performances have casts consisting of a mix of Chinese and Thai performers. The purpose of these roving troupes in Bangkok is to preserve Chinese culture and tradition in a country where Thai-Chinese are often third or fourth generation. The performances are also held to please the gods.

As in New York City's Chinatown, where I frequently attend such performances, it is the middle-aged and elderly (with a handful of youngsters) of the neighborhood who go to these operas. Those held in Bangkok's Yaowarat Road, Chinatown's main thoroughfare, are probably not expensive in comparison to those in New York where the cheapest seat goes for $10 and the most expensive (depending if one of the stars is from Hong Kong or mainland China) can go for $100.

I was pleased to find Noah Shahar's Chinese Opera gallery in monochrome. Its two-dozen black and white portraits of Chinese Opera performers; some very young, others much older, are very well composed. Most of them were made in the back stage/room of the venues, where the time consuming and meticulous makeup is applied. Normally, actors-singers in Chinese Operas self apply their makeup. I believe that the Chinese Opera as performed in Bangkok is in Mandarin, and may be Shanghai Opera rather than Cantonese. However, with over 30 varieties of Chinese Opera, this is difficult to ascertain unless one is actually there.

Noah Shahar is a photographer originally from Tel Aviv, where he started his career as  fashion and then a wedding photographer. He traveled to Southeast Asia in 2014, and decided that he would remain in that part of the world and establish his career there.