24-year-old Lyu Jiangtao has been learning Qinqiang Opera for 10 years. His parents are both performers of the opera, and have had a great influence on his interest and talent.
Also known as Luantan, Qinqiang Opera is a local opera that is popular mainly in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, as well as its neighboring regions, such as Gansu and Qinghai provinces and the Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. It boasts the most ancient, affluent, and largest musical system of all Chinese operas.
The opera first originated from local folk songs and dance forms in the Yellow River Valley of Shaanxi and Gansu provinces -- the birthplaces of Chinese culture. According to historical records, the high-pitched local opera dates all the way back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Its time-honored history has given Qinqiang the reputation as the forefather of all styles of Chinese opera.
Qinqiang singing is famous for being bold and unrestrained, using a very masculine voice from the Northwestern part of China. But Lyu explained that’s the case for certain roles like “Hualian” - a male character with a painted face.
“Qinqiang is actually a very exquisite art form. The music and singing is gentle and delicate,” Lyu added, “Other roles like ‘Dan' (female roles) and ‘Sheng’ (male roles) sing parts that are rather fine and smooth, and have a very melodic sound.”
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