Part 2 - Long Enough But Not To Be Forgotten - Teochew Opera (Behind The Scene of A Street Opera Stage)
Teochew opera is a traditional art form with a history of more than 500 years. While the Teochew dialect is still widely spoken here in Singapore, it´s a rare treat to watch a "live" Teochew opera show today.
Even rarer still is the opportunity to go backstage to watch rehearsals and observe the actors wear their make-up and costumes.
The audience only get to see the actors on stage, complete with make-up and colourful costumes, I had a peek into a whole world of backstage excitement to see them transform from ordinary people into larger-than-life characters. It was a whole world of excitement backstage.
It was not long before I felt very comfortable amongst everyone, they were all so friendly and welcoming, for me it was truly an 'honour' to be able to watch and photograph the performers at this time and who made it so much easier for me.
I stood around most of the time mesmerized at the time and effort it was taking to apply the make up, watching the 'transformation' and the costumes, I knew this was an amazing opportunity and was mostly due to Xin Xin Rong He Teochew Opera Troupe 新新荣和潮剧 and for that, I say a huge thank you.
While many actors can put on their own make-up, the professional touch of an experienced make-up artist is essential to help add that dramatic flourish to winged eye-brows and exaggerate the slant to those almond eyes!
I watched in fascination as professional opera make-up artistes altered the whole persona of female actors by adding on a stylised fringe and long side-burns, piece-by-piece and layer-upon-layer of wraps and hairpieces.
Characters playing elderly ladies and poor maids wear minimal hair ornaments while wealthy women carry a full and often, heavy head of intricate jewels and flowers.
The women certainly need the help of a professional opera hair-dresser who will alter their persona by adding a stylised fringe and long sideburns, and piece-by-piece and layer-upon-layer of hairpieces and wraps.
Male characters first wear a mesh cap before a damp strip of water silk is wrapped firmly as a hair-band before the ornate hat is fitted on.
In Chinese opera, characters are divided into two main groups - those skilled in martial arts like warriors and hunters, and more refined characters like scholars, maidens and wealthy women.
The graceful tunes of Teochew opera music with shrill vocals over the ensemble of the Teochew string instrument, gong, drum and Chinese flute and backed by a typical chorus, is reminiscent of my Grandma´s favourite music.
All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday evening at the Esplanade watching the performers backstage, their preparation and i was captivated by the dramatic performances by the Xin Xin Rong He Teochew Opera Troupe 新新荣和潮剧.
Special thanks to Xin Xin Rong He Teochew Opera Troupe 新新荣和潮剧 for giving me this opportunity to have an insightful photography shoot at the backstage. I am truly grateful for that and i sincerely wish that all of you at Xin Xin Rong He Troupe 新新荣和潮剧 will continue to give your utmost best in all of your future Teochew opera performances. Please continue to keep it up :-)
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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