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Chinese Opera in Thailand

Photographer: Rungroj Yongrit


The Chinese Opera is a spectacle combining song, dance, acting, poetry and martial arts. The performers wear colorful costumes and elaborate make-up. The opera is based on ancient legendary tales of heroes and the supernatural. Some stories are interpretations of actual historical events. Traditional musical instruments present unique melodies with a high-pitched voice and the dialogues are considered to be of high literary value. The traditional Chinese Opera has been a part of Thai culture for centuries but due to the country's economic recession the troupe and singers have seen their wages slashed in a shrinking of performances and a decline in audience numbers. The Chinese Opera in Thailand is considered to have passed its heyday because of the very characteristics which do not suit the taste of a mass audience and because fewer young people take up the profession. Many fear that the art form is in danger of being wiped out altogether.