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Lantern Opera

Lantern Opera in Chongqing

The background music of Liangshan Lantern Opera is mainly "Pang Tong Tong melody” (also called Liangshan melody), shengge melody and folk melody, among which Liangshan melody is unique. The opera is performed in dialect and in a form of laughing, playing, shaking, pulling, and dancing. There are over 200 lantern opera programs and most are adapted from folk drama or folktale. The lyrics are natural bringing out the atmosphere of life. Also, it is most entertaining, with exaggerated performances, and is beloved by local people. This art form is presented throughout various occasions including as festivals, weddings and funerals.

Lantern Opera in Northern Sichuan is popular in the Langzhong of Nianchong, Nanbu, Yilong, Qhunqing and other places. Like other lantern operas, it developed out of hand lantern, hanging lantern, lantern for fun, and lantern for dance. Tragedies are less than comedies, even sad dramas are filled with strong comedy, meanwhile the stories reflect justice and punish criminals. The performance is entertaining, playful, and natural because the words used in the play are from daily life. The clown in the opera plays a significant role, most lantern operas, over half of them, cannot be performed without clowns (because there are much more comedies than tragedies). The clown can play a negative character, a positive character and a neutral character, and is divided by male (also called xiaohullian and sanhualian) and female clown (also called caidan, yaodan and po). The Lantern Opera in Northern Sichuan derives from the festival lantern, with components such as folk music, melodies, god songs, duangong melody and other melodies which absorb Shaanxi melody and wuxiabudiao. Lantern Opera in Northern Sichuan has banshi tone and qupai tone, they can be used in one opera. The main musical instruments are Pang Tong Tong, huqin (also called weng tong tong because it makes the sound of “weng”) and lantern gongs and drums and later the erhu and flute were added. The performance is a reflection of life. There are no fixed actions and it is integrated with Bayu dancing, jugglery, monkey, puppets, shadow, among other forms. Today, most performers are old, the amount of artists available are decreasing. Moreover, the operas passed by word of mouth are almost nonexistent. The worst thing is the folk musical instruments are replaced by electroacoustic musical instrument and folk music because of the shortage of musicians. Affected by popular culture, the young are not willing to accept traditional and folk art, the lantern opera are at risk of being lost, so it has to be protected.