A chance encounter with a Chinese Opera
to take home for dinner and was walking to the
bus-stop when I heard the sound of cymbals and
the acrobatic stylings of a woman's voice singing
a Hokkien operatic song.
Walking quickly towards the music's source,
I found, smack in the middle of cosmopolitan,
present-day Holland Village, a throwback from of
A Chinese opera was being presented, with
puppets, porcelain-faced puppets dressed in
old Chinese wayang clothes elaborately embroidered.
The puppets were about 30 cm tall and they even
had their own velvet chairs, which looked surprisingly
modern in architectural styling, something one might
actually buy from Ikea, if not for the fact that
the chair was miniature, merely 10 cm tall.
I could not understand what they were singing about
as the opera was being presented in Hokkien.
It was very fascinating to watch though and
I was amused to see that in place of a traditional
guzheng or erhu, there was a man backstage, playing
a Casio keyboard. I guess even something as
traditional as a Chinese opera being staged in Singapore
is not untouched by the convenience of modernity.
The lady singing was also the puppeteer.
Right in front of the stage were many plastic red buckets,
each filled with various foodstuffs like Maggi instant
noodles. I assumed that they were being offered to
the various gods that were depicted in the illustrations
on the gold and red altar at the front of the tent,
this being the season of the Lunar New Year and such.
So perhaps, the opera too, was being staged for the enjoyment
of those who had passed beyond the present.