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Yi’huang opera has been receiving increasing attention from academia around the world since it was named in the first group of National Intangible Culture Heritages in 2006. As most scholars were previously more interested in its ancient history in the Ming & Qing dynasty, they made great contributions on archiving, preserving, and evaluating Yi’huang opera by tracing its original roots, clarifying its evolution, sorting repertoires, and analyzing music.
However, when it comes to modern history there still are many virgin fields to explore, especially since the first official troupe was founded in 1949 by the Chinese government under a newly-centralized political system: 1) How has Yi’huang opera developed in the new China? 2) What’s the difference between modern troupes and ancient troupes in China? 3) What caused Yi’huang opera troupes to disband twice and be restored three times from 1956 to 2006? 4) What happened to this official troupe during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution? 4) Is there any contemporary art that strongly influenced Yi’huang opera?
To answer all the questions above, we need to take a careful look at those people who engaged with Yi’huang opera as a group and compare their lifestyle to that of others who lived in the same class of society. This presentation is based on doing an oral history of Yi’huang opera, aiming to fill the gaps in its historical research, to reveal its development characteristics, and to represent the survival situation of Yi’huang opera people in the new China. The author will share her experiences of interviewing people of Yi’huang opera and archiving documents, will discuss the preservation and dissemination of Chinese opera, and will conclude by performing a selection from Yi’huang opera.
Yuan Wang is a visiting scholar at Kent State University, working with Dr. Kazadi wa Mukuna in the Ethnomusicology Department. She is a senior lecturer of the Composition & Theory Department at Jiang’xi Normal University School of Music in Jiangxi, China. She received her master’s degree in music from Jiangxi Normal University in 2006 and started her teaching career at her alma mater, where she has remained until now.
In 2009 she was supported to study composition theories in the Central Music Conservatory, Beijing, for half a year. In 2011, she was sent to the Sydney College of English in Sydney, Australia, to receive short-term training for bilingual education. She is widely interested in composition, education, ethnomusicology, gender, and methods, but she has spent most of her time studying Chinese opera, as influenced by her family’s history in opera. Two of her current projects are studying Yi’huang opera, which regionally formed in Jiangxi province.