Yu opera (simplified Chinese: 豫剧; traditional Chinese: 豫劇; pinyin: Yùjù), formerly known as Henan bangzi[note 1] (Chinese: 河南梆子; pinyin: Hénán Bāngzi), is one of China's famous national opera forms, alongside Peking opera, Yue opera, Huangmei opera and Pingju. Henan province is the origin of Yu opera. Henan's one-character abbreviation is "豫" (yù), and thus the opera style was officially named "豫剧" (Yùjù) after the founding of the People's Republic of China. The area where Yu opera is most commonly performed is in the region surrounding the Yellow River and Huai River. According to statistical figures, Yu opera was the leading opera genre in terms of the number of performers and troupes. Outside of Henan, provinces such as Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, all have professional Yu opera troupes. There have also been visits to Taiwan.
Yu opera came into being during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. At the beginning, it was mainly song arias without make-up, which was loved by the ordinary people. As a result, it developed rapidly. The origin of Yu opera was hard to trace, and the sayings about its origin were different.
There are four major types of Yu opera. Xiangfu tune opera is heard around Kaifeng; Yudong tune in the Shangqiu area. Yuxi tune is heard around Luoyang, and the Shahe tune around Luohe. Yudong and Yuxi are the main forms, with Yudong expressing comedy and Yuxi expressing tragedy.
The most famous Henan opera actors and actresses are Chang Xiangyu, Chen Suzhen, Cui Lantian, Ma JinFeng.
- "Bangzi" meaning wooden clappers with bars of unequal length
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