opera (Koa-he) was created in Taiwan by merging various
forms of opera from the Southern Fujian area of Chinese
mainland. Greatly influenced by local folk customs,
it became popular musical plays with unique Taiwanese
characteristics. The new form was subsequently brought
back to the Fujian region, and called "Xiang" opera.
Through the touring performances by troupes from Taiwan,
it also caught on among Minnan Chinese immigrants in
Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore and became known
there as "Taiwanese Opera".
the early days, there were few entertainments available
in Taiwan, therefore, Taiwanese Opera already became
popular by around 1930. The audiences of Taiwanese opera
were of ordinary people, not of the ruling class as
was for Chinese opera, creating a friendly environment.
Especially when it is played in an outdoor platform,
the sounds of drums and gongs from the stage mixing
with shouting voices of audiences from a very intimate
atmosphere. People enjoyed themselves in such a noisy
environment which fully reflected a peaceful agricultural
Taiwan, Taiwanese Opera originated in Ilan, and extended
to other parts of the Island within ten years. At the
onset of Sino-Japanese war, it was banned by the Colonial
Japanese regime. After the WW II, Taiwanese Opera revived
and gained momentum. In three years, there were more
than five hundred troupes, including over three hundred
Taiwanese Opera soon faced stiff competition from movies
and television, and in turn turned to television or
Taiwanese opera is sung in Taiwanese, it is discouraged
and allotted limited and unfavorable television time
segments by the government. In recent years, however,
with the changing political climate and economic conditions,
interests in indigenous culture are being revived.
Efforts are being made through individual efforts to
raise the standard of the Taiwanese opera, and to adopt
modern theatrical technology to transform it into a
quality indoor performing arts accepted by all groups
achieve such a goal, it is necessary to cultivate quality
performers. However, without organized schools, it is
still being achieved by one-to-one individual transfer
of the skills at present time.
Chiung-chih Liao is one of the concerned living pioneers
in this field. She started her Taiwanese opera career
at the young age of fifteen and soon became famous at
age twenty. She performed throughout the island and
Southeast Asian countries. She left the stage at one
time, but returned to engage in the task of teaching
the younger generation.
In 1988, she became the first artist in the area of
Taiwanese Opera, to receive the National Culture and
Arts Award from President Lee Teng-Huei. At present,
she is the only accomplished artist to have performed
over twenty plays in Taiwanese Opera.
1990, Ms. Liao established the Cultural Propagation
Theatrical Group, and the Liao Chiung-chih Taiwanese
Opera Foundation For Culture and Education in 1999.
The purpose of both organizations is to teach and propagate
the art of Taiwanese Opera.
is one of the four grand plays in Taiwanese opera.
Chen-san, a casanova from a rich family, was deeply
attracted to Wu-nyang's beauty, when they unexpectedly
met on the crowded street decorated with various lanterns
for a celebration on the Lantern Festival Day. In order
to win Wu-nyang's heart, Chen-san disguised himself
as a bronze-mirror polisher and peddled around the neighborhood.
As expected, one day he was called by Wu-nyang's servant,
I-chung, for a polishing work. Chen-san intentionally
broke Wu-nyang's mirror after he had polished bright.
The "poor" man could not pay for the mirror and willingly
sold himself as a servant to Wu-nyang's. What a smart
excuse to stay with her. Under I-chung's match-making
effort, Chen-san and Wu-nyang eventually married, but
not before going through a series of setback.