The struggle to continue the opera tradition

Seth Akmal

THE Xiekang Guat Opera troupe performs during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival at Kau Ong Yah temple in Ampang, Selangor. 

The performers consist of mosly elders who have remained passionate to continue the traditional opera culture, especially after the two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ng Choon Keong, 63, who plays the role of an antagonist for the show and has been with the opera since his childhood, said the younger generation is not interested in performing.

“It takes three years to master the opera performance, that is why the culture has been detached from the younger generation, but if there is anyone who wants to learn I am willing to teach them,” Ng said.

According to Ng, when he joined the troupe there were almost 40 performers, but today that has dwindled to 13, most of them coming from across the country.

Moreover, he forecast the opera tradition will decay in the next 10 years if no one is willing to continue the culture.

Austin Ang, 24, who came from Parit Jawa, Muar, feels blessed to be part of the troupe and he has been with it since he was 12 years old.

“My parents are also part of the opera troupe that is how I participate and I feel happy to perform with them,” Austin said. 

Despite being the youngest in the team, he also feels the challenge to encourage the young generation to take part. – October 1, 2022.

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