The Huagu Opera, or flower drum opera, is a variety of local drama that portrays rural life through simple stories, fluid performance and lively music. As Huagu is sung using the local dialect, this form of opera is widely appreciated by the local farmers.
Many of the traditional plays are based on true stories and anecdotes passed down among the local people. These include: Returning the Cloak, Meeting in the Buddhist Convent, The Straw Selling Nun, The Tea Servant, A Girl Named Jade, Once Upon a Time in Wuzhen, Lu Ya Chen Sells His Wife, Selling Herbs in the Nunnery, and Grinding Soybeans.
The Huagu Opera was once forbidden in the late Qing Dynasty, but in 1952, some veteran performers organized a troupe that toured when not occupied with farming. They performed in Wuzhen and adjacent towns, including Tongxiang, Haining, Yuhang and Deqing. As new forms of entertainment began to become more and more popular, the troupe stopped its performances in May of 1988.
In 1999, the Huagu Opera was resurrected as a rare form of traditional folk art to be preserved, and some of the veteran performers of the Tongxiang Opera Group resumed their performances in the Xiuzhen Temple in Dongzha, Wuzhen. Although the plays are sung in the local dialect, incomprehensible to most tourists, the beautiful music and vivid performances still attract locals and tourists alike, all of whom are captivated by the beauty of traditional culture.
Keyword: Huagu Opera