When it comes to evoking the mystery and charm of ancient China, few art forms can compare to Chinese opera, with its kaleidoscopic costumes, distinctive falsetto singing punctuated by gongs, and intricate gestures rich with symbolism. Despite serious competition from more modern forms of entertainment, traditional Chinese performance art in the form of Cantonese opera continues to persevere in Hong Kong as a beautiful and timeless craft.
One of the major styles of Chinese opera, Cantonese opera is a highly respected and much-loved art form that blends Chinese legend, music and drama into a vibrant performance style that’s rich with symbolic meaning. Popular with audiences in southern China and parts of Southeast Asia, it was included as part of UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
You don’t need to understand Cantonese or be familiar with the stories of Chinese history and mythology from which these dramas are written to enjoy it. The performances alone are entertainment enough, with their spectacle of colourful costumes, extravagant sets and famously unique style of singing. If you are interested in knowing more about some of the most famous Cantonese operas, you can download the translated English libretti and surtitles of selected excerpts and plays here.