Students learn elementary skills of Dian Opera in class. (Photo/ Tracy)
Dian opera(Yunnan Opera), as a local opera in Kunming with a record of 200 years, has seen rises and falls over the history.
It was used to be adored the mass as the most popular way of amusement. However, impacted by varied entertainment forms and multiple foreign cultures, the traditional art has confronted with difficulties in inheritance in the latest several years.
Dian Opera was included in the first batch of Yunnan Intangible Cultural and Heritage Protection List in May of 2006 for cultural preservation.
Developing young inheritors is urgent and indispensable
In order to protect Dian Opera from extinction, Yunnan Vocational College of Culture and Art offered the Dian Opera course since 1956. It is the only professional school that provides classes for Dian Opera performance in the province.
The school has fostered a lot of renowned Dian Opera artists. It is said that 98% of Dian Opera performers in the Yunnan Dian Opera Theatre graduated from the school at present.
There were about 60 students enrolled in the Dian Opera class for a 6-year or a 8-year study this fall. The oldest student in the class is 15 years old, and the youngest one is 10 years old.
They were selected from over 300 applicants across the province. For most of them, learning Dian Opera is merely for acquiring a survival skill in the future work.
After graduation, the students have to attend various examinations. Only the most outstanding students can entry the Yunnan Dian Opera Theatre for working. For the rest of students, the theatre will help them enter other theatre or performance groups.In fact, most students did not familiar with Dian Opera before, nor did they realize the painstaking of learning Dian Opera.
According to Ma Jun(马俊), a Dian Opera teacher of the school, a good Dian Opera performer needs great talent as well as over ten years' practice.
However, it seems that Dian Opera performers' paying does not earn them a nice return.
"For most of the time, our salaries can merely cover the basic cost of living." said Wang Runmei(王润梅), the vice president of the Yunnan Dian Opera Theatre who has engaged in Dian Opera performance for 33 years.
Wang said, the salary of a young performer in the theatre is about 2,000 yuan per month, which increases with his or her levels of professional titles, such as promoting from national second-class performer to national first-class performer, etc.
Ma, who has devoted in Dian Opera for over 40 years, is paid a wage of 4,000 yuan per month at present.
Dian Opera is reviving
Wang noted that the local government has offered great support in finance. Starting from last year, the government allocates 5 million to the Yunnan Dian Opera Theatre every year.
With the fund, the theatre devotes 1.8 million to support the Dian Opera students in Yunnan Vocational College of Culture and Art. The theatre also allotted ten professional performers to teach the students there.
Yunnan Opera Theatre is located at Dongsi Street(东寺街) of Kunming. Dian operas narrating and the famous traditional Chinese tales are performed there in every Thursday afternoon.
The theatre has staged over 30 Dian Operas this year. The theatre seats 600 audiences. The occupancy of theatre this year is higher than before, even though most of the audiences are still the aged people. (Editors: Tracy, Lynn)
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