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Folk art that rocks

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-24 07:12

Folk art that rocks

Qinqiang Opera Yisushe is staged at the ongoing China Art Festival in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The production tells the story of the 100-year-old troupe. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When Sun Yat-sen launched the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 to oust the ruling Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and founded the Republic of China in 1912, the ripple effects were beyond the political.

Two scriptwriters from Shaanxi province were inspired by the revolution and ambitious to educate the general public with accessible folk art. Li Tongxuan (1860-1932) and Sun Renyu (1872-1934) founded Yisushe in 1912, an arts troupe specializing in Qinqiang Opera, the most popular opera form in northwestern China.

Today, Yisushe is the oldest Chinese opera troupe based in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, and continues to draw crowds locally and beyond.

Qinqiang Opera, often described as China's "ancient rock", is known for its intensive beats and high-pitched singing style. It started in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and thrived during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-99). In 2006, Qinqiang was added to the country's list of intangible cultural heritage.

During the 11th China Art Festival, one of the country's largest national arts events, now being held through Oct 31 in Xi'an, the troupe staged its latest original production, titled Yisushe, which tells the history of the troupe.

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