Cantonese opera, an important stream of Chinese opera originated in Guangdong, is a prominent traditional art in China since the 1920s. In 2009 Cantonese opera has been inscribed onto the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This frame of a world-class cultural heritage defined Cantonese opera as a traditional art form. Meanwhile, there has also been a rise of nouvelle Cantonese opera since the 2000s, a stream of Cantonese opera performance that incorporated western and modern elements from other art forms into traditional Cantonese opera in terms of the content and the production model. The number of nouvelle Cantonese opera productions in Hong Kong has increased since the late 2000s and more and more nouvelle Cantonese operas were shown overseas. The rise of nouvelle Cantonese opera in Hong Kong since the late 2000s presents an interesting case to examine the process of artistic legitimization of an alternative form of traditional art. This paper analyzed how macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors affected the opportunity space of pro-nouvelle practitioners in gaining legitimacy in the sector. From archives and in-depth interviews with Cantonese opera practitioners, this study shows that (i) macro factor – the change of Hong Kong’s socio-political environment since its retrocession to Mainland China in 1997; (ii) meso factor – the institutionalization of training and funding systems; and (iii) micro factor – the establishment of personal troupes for resource mobilization – gave rise to nouvelle Cantonese opera in Hong Kong despite the challenges of its traditional counterpart.
Jackie Yuen, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Victor Shin, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
About the Presenter(s)
Ms. Kwan Yee Yuen is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include Hong Kong Studies and the Sociology of Culture. Her current research focuses on the nouvelle Cantonese opera in Hong Kong.
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