Friday, 13 October 2017

Qinqiang Opera | Shanghai

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
One of the most difficult subject matters I've had to photograph is Chinese Opera, not because of photographic requirements, but because of the sheer diversity of its various types and styles, as well as its thousands of different operatic tales.


Qinqiang is one of these regional types, and was performed at Shanghai's Yi Fu Theater on Fuzhou Road. The opera's tale was about two women; both brides but with different fates. The opera's title is The Qilin Purse (a red purse bearing the symbol or image of the mythical Chinese 'unicorn', meant to bring luck and good fortune to brides at their weddings).

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
The performance is representative of the folk Chinese opera of the northwest province of Shaanxi, where it was called Qin thousands of years ago. Its melodies originated from rural areas of ancient Shaanxi and Gansu. The singing style is described by musicologists as resounding, powerful and intense, while the performances are full of energy.

There are generally two kinds of arias in Qinqiang Opera: Huan Yin (joyous tune) and Ku Yin (sad tune). The roles are categorized into thirteen types, four types of sheng (male roles in traditional Chinese opera), six dan (female characters), two jing (painted-face characters) and one chou (clown). 


The number of the Qinqiang works historically ranked first on the list of more than 300 local operas in China. But only about 4,700 works remain today. Fortunately, Qinqiang Opera was listed as a national Intangible World Heritage in 2006.


Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
All the photographs of this Qinqiang performance were made using a Fuji X-Pro2 and a Fujinon 18-135mm OIS lens. I don't use a flash, and even if I had one with me, flash photography was not allowed.