Huju: Traditional Opera in Modern Shanghai

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OUP/British Academy, Apr 10, 2003 - Music - 279 pages
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China has over three hundred distinct styles of music drama, from exorcism theatre to farce, historical romance, and shadow puppetry. This study considers one of the newer operatic forms. Established just two centuries ago, huju (Shanghai opera), is renowned for its portrayal of ordinary people, not the emperors, courtesans, and heroes of older forms. Acting and make-up aim for realism rather than symbolism, and stories deal with contemporaneous themes: the struggles of lovers to marry, women's rights after the Communist revolution (1949), and life under the new social order established by Deng Xiaoping's reforms in the 1980s. Music ranges from local folksong to syncretic adoptions of Western popular music. Jonathan Stock is an authority on Chinese music, with previous books on Chinese flute and violin solos and Abing, a twentieth-century composer. Adding to his extensive research on Chinese music, Stock's eighteen months of fieldwork in Shanghai allows him to interweave material from historical reports, sound recordings, live performance, and the first-hand accounts of three generations of singers into a study of a unique Chinese opera form seen equally as historical tradition, venue for social action, and forum for musical creativity. Assessing first the roots of huju in local folksong and ballad, he looks at the enduring role of emotional expressivity. He next focuses on the rise of actresses, laying out a specially 'musical' reading of gendered performance. Further chapters reverse conventional ethnomusicological arguments that music constructs place by looking at how Shanghai's institutions before 1949 shaped the environment within which troupes developed new dramatic materials and competed for work. In considering reforms post-1949, the author shows how the infusion of explicit political content actually weakened the expressive impact of these dramas. Finally, developments since 1980 are reviewed. The book includes songs and illustrations of performance styles. An innovative combination of urban and historical ethnomusicology, the book's findings will engage the historian of China and general scholar of music alike.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Vignette in the ethnographic present or anxious authoring in a selfconscious age
2
notes on the use of a term
4
Shanghai opera
7
Existing research
10
Research context and conduct
18
Structure of the book
21
Shanghai and the Wu dialect
23
Place and music local opera in Shanghai 191249
97
theoretical perspectives
100
Institutionalization
105
Cosmopolitanism
133
Conclusions
153
Huju and the politics of revolution post1949
157
history
161
critical readings of three modern huju
178

Acknowledgements
28
The rise of a local opera form in east China up to 1920
30
Dongxiang shange folk song
33
Balladsinging 1
38
Huaguxi
39
tanhuang
41
Opera singers in earlytwentiethcentury Shanghai
46
Conclusions
56
Female roles and rise of actresses 1915C 1950
59
Female performers female roles and theoretical perspectives
67
Analysis of selected female roles in Shanghai opera
72
Female singers and musical sound
86
Conclusions
96
Conclusions
203
Ethnomusicological research in an urban setting
205
discovering huju in Shanghai
209
Conclusions
223
Coda
225
Teaching lineages of singers
228
Chinesecharacter song texts
231
Glossary
236
Titles of dramas and episodes
242
Other terms
247
Bibliography
256
Index
273
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Jonathan Stock lectures in music at the University of Sheffield where he establishd the ethnomusicology programme, and is past Chairman of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. He has been awarded a Westrup Prize for a recent article (2002) that appeared in Music and Letters

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