Tibetan Opera
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Tibetan Opera

Update: Dec. 27th, 2011

Tibetan Opera

Origin of Tibetan Opera

Tibetan opera, named "Aghilamu" in Tibetan, is a kind of opera which is popular in Tibet. It is comprehensive performance art which show the story in folk song and dance form. In 15th century,  there was a monk decided to build bridges over every river in snow-covered region. He made painstaking efforts to raise fund in three years, but he failed. Later, he found there were seven sisters who are very beautiful among the pious believers, so he gathered them together and formed a troupe. They played the operas which are adopted from Buddhism stories to move people and raise fund. That's the preform of Tibetan opera. So, people regarded this monk as the ancestor of Tibetan opera. Of course, after constantly development by folk artists, Tibetan opera isn't in its original form. But Tibetan opera became a real series of art form after 17th century.

Schools of Tibetan Opera

Before revolution, the troupes of every region would come to Lhasa to play for Dalai and the governors in Shoton Festival. The troupe which played for Dalai and governors became the mainstay of its district. As the difference of history, geology, language, style, and attainment, there formed different schools in different style. Among these schools, there are White Mask School which belong to old school, and Blue Mask School which is new school, as well as Monodrama. As the old school in white mask, so they called White Mask School. Their postures and singing ways are very simple, so their influence very small.

The new school includes Jiongba, Jiang Gal, Jue mulong and Xiangba four great troupes. When they playing, the actors with blue masks, so they are called Blue Mask School. The performance art of new school gets great development and  it is influential. So they replaced old school slowly.

Program of Tibetan Opera

During the hundreds years performing practice, Tibetan opera progressively formed its fix program. Tibetan opera performing generally is square performance, including some stage performance. When the opera is being performed, the make-up is very simple. Except the mask, there are commonly pollen and rouge, without complex facial types. The musical instruments are simple, too. Percussion music instruments include a drum and cymbals. During the performance, there is a person use allegretto to introduce the development of plot for viewers.

There are many arias of Tibetan opera, roughly divided into long melody (Dang Ren in Tibetan) which used to express happiness; sad melody (Jue Lu in Tibetan) used to show pain and grief; short melody (Dang Tong in Tibetan) used to narrate. Kongfu, dance, and feast are widely used in Tibetan opera. Commonly, there is a section of dance following a section of singing.

The performance time of Tibetan opera can be long or short. Some of them can perform several hours; some can perform one or two days, even several days. In general, a piece of Tibetan opera can be divided into three parts: the first part is "Wen Ba Dun" which means hunter clean the land. That's the actors in hunter dress, with colorful sword in the hand come out first to clean the land, and sing blessing songs. Then is the" Jia Lu Qin Pi" which is prince blessing. That's the actors in prince clothes come to stage which represent protect the stage and bring good luck to viewers. The last is "La Mu Dui Ga" which is fairies dancing. That's the actors in fairies dress dance on the stage which represents fairies come down to earth and have fun with people on earth. That's the prologue of Tibetan opera. The second part is "Xiong" which is the main part. The third one is "Zha Xi" which is a farewell ceremony.

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