HAJI MAJI


TEOCHEW OPERA FROM SOUTHERN CHINA

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Here’s a beautiful and hypnotic Teochew Opera on the obscure Tiger label. Teochew is a Chinese dialect from the Guangdong region of Southern China. The Teochew music bears more resemblance to Southeast Asian music than other Chinese opera forms, especially the Peking opera (in fact, this was recorded in Thailand according to one of our readers, see comments for further info). This record is a great example of the measured rhythm and clear melody of the Teochew style, with little of the wild percussive effects of the Peking style. During the 18th-20th centuries there was much emigration from Guangdong into Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere in the region and a healthy Teochew Opera scene existed in those places until recently.

>TIGER 1048D

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20 Comments so far
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Another excellent record. A definite Southeast Asian flair – really nice!

Comment by JW

Sorry Dave, I took forever!
Initial asking around, one said this record is recorded in Thailand
The red words on the left lines can be loosely translated as “Thailand Capital Teochew Tunes”

From my research for an exhibition on Teochew traditional arts in Singapore, Teochew opera and music only became popular in Singapore around 1957 with the influx of Teochew Opera movies from the Shantou of Guangdong – mainly from the Opera School there.

Before 1957, Teochew Opera and music was deemed as a low-class art form for the average masses, as
a) the language used were daily speech & slangs (versus Official Court jargon used by the officials during the last few Dynasties of China in Wai Jiang Opera {The 1st Teochew Opera form popular in SG, Malaysia & Indonesia since 1910 – 1960s)
b) the opera is performed by male & female children who are earning a living (versus Wai Jiang – the high-class opera performed for the elites & educated, & also a popular recreation form for the rich)

Teochew Opera is a relatively new opera form in China, evolved from a juxtaposition of multiple opera forms that trickled into Teochew-speaking region of Guangdong (a political & economic backwater location for centuries).

The characteristics of Teochew Opera & music displays clear signs of its evolution from Nan Opera (The earliest form of Chinese Opera, which all major Chinese operas have evolved from), Wai Jiang Opera, Qin Opera & Gui Opera. All synergizing together during the late Qing Dynasty to create a distinctive southern China flavour in Teochew Opera & music.

In fact, my society is in the process of recording a DVD of Teochew music now, led by a famous composer & conductor from Shantou China now.

We’ll be quite appreciative if you support our production. Be it advice on our DVD educational contents, or financially, it will be great.

Comment by Javier Li

Excellent information, thanks Javier!

Comment by hajimaji

Hi Dave

It is remarkable to note your interest in Chinese opera.
Judging from the label, it was indeed a very old troupe from
China. The title is about a ‘bodyguard of the well known
justice Pao. Background is China Song (or Sung) dynasty.
However, I believe there is a set of several LPs.

That’s all I can describe.

Comment by santuan3@yahoo.com

I asked my China teacher he said it is a professional troupe Zhong Zheng Shun Xiang Ban in Bangkok. They are still existing now.
The LP is probably released 30-40 years ago.

Comment by Javier Li

thanks again, fantastic information!

Comment by hajimaji

Refer to Mr Javier Li’s comment of 13/Nov/07: I think TC Opera in Singapore was already popular in the 1950’s even before the influx of TC Opera movies. As a 5 year old kid then I went to street operas staged by local troupes such as “Xin Yong Hua” and “Lau Sai Thor” performed to huge audiences. Later in the early 60’s came the influx of TC Opera movies.

Comment by Chia Buk Chua

Hello Chia,
Teochew Opera existed in China since the end of the Qing Dynasty and they did come into Singapore as well. But they were considered crude and coarse and not worthy of the educated & better-off China residents of Singapore to learn as a hobby. The amateur Teochew musicians and actors (males only; proper girls don’t go out and disgrace themselves) took up Waijiang or Gua Gang Opera and music. Teochew Opera troupes before the influx of TC Opera movies were professional troupes with children slaves (boys and girls) performing scripts in bai hua or normal conversational Teochew language about day to day life, etc. Gua Gang on the other hand is performed in Mandarin and in Official Language. i.e. Legal Chinese, so difficult that only the officials and highly educated would understand. (similar to your law books, English that only lawyers would understand.)
Therefore, in the streets, TC Opera was for the masses, illiterate or educated does not matter. In theatres, amateurs pay money to perform “posh” difficult to understand Gua Gang, “proving that they are so polished”. =)

Comment by Javier Li (Ms)

The record does not give any clues as to where it was produced, but the sleeve says “Made in Germany”. Could you send me a high resolution scan of the label so I could examine the information in the area between run-off groove and label which may give away the source.Thanks
Rainer

Comment by Rainer E. Lotz

It was recorded in Thailand….. It says Melodies from the Capital of Thailand,and the troupe, as noted above, is a well known troupe fronm Bangkok.
maybe you’re wondering where the record was pressed?

cheers,
HM

Comment by HAJI MAJI

As I am working on a book about record labels from Germany, I need to find out which company actually PRESSED the disc. I would appreciate a clean scan of a label, preferably without stickers AND, IMPORTANT, visible/readable information such as matrix numbers in the wax.
Perhaps Telefunken (TELDEC)? Leesong & Co may have be a trading company operating from Singapore rather than Bangkok.

Comment by Rainer E. Lotz

There were so many TC opera companies in Thailand 50 years ago. There were more 5 opera theatres in Yaoyalat (Chinatown in BKK). It is so sad that there is nothing now. There are a few TC opera in Thailand, but they are not Chinese. They are Thai who are from countryside. They can sing and dance, but they don’t know the meaning. Chinese opera in Thai is Ngiew.

Ben USA

Comment by Ben

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