• The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Cantonese Opera: from Backstage to the Stage

Interested in Cantonese opera? Join us in an exploration of this artform from the Backstage to the Stage.

1,386 enrolled on this course

Cantonese Opera: from Backstage to the Stage
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours

Get an introduction to how a Cantonese opera show is prepared

Cantonese opera is a form of Chinese opera that can trace its roots back to the 12th century. Combining music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting, Cantonese opera tells stories from Chinese history and myth, reflecting virtues like love, loyalty and patriotism.

This online course introduces Cantonese opera, with highlights of how a show is prepared from backstage to the stage.

You will look at how performers prepare individually and as a team through rehearsals; explore the makeup, props and costumes for shows; and discover the roles people play both on and offstage.

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds [Singing]

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds We can already find many resources and information relating to Cantonese Opera on the Internet. Through this development, we hope to organise these resources for use in learning. Using technology, we hope to introduce these valuable resources and this Intangible Cultural Heritage to more people worldwide. In particular, our younger generations. Through our MOOC, we hope to share our knowledge and experience of Cantonese Opera with people of all ages from all over the world. In designing the course, we decided to adopt the approach “from backstage to the stage” to highlight the different stages of a Cantonese Opera performance. We hope this makes the course more engaging and interesting to our online learners, and to demonstrate the variety of our subject discipline.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds The course is divided into four sections. The first section is about the preparation required before a performance, including individual and team-based tasks. Second section focuses on the different types of rehearsals, as well as the various processes and how they fit together. The third section is on the performance itself. Here, we will highlight the use of make-up and costumes in the shows. Finally, we will share and discuss the traditions and cultures around this subject. After completing this course, we hope our learners will gain a basic understanding of Cantonese Opera so they can describe the different processes and work involved in organising a Cantonese Opera performance.

What topics will you cover?

  • Overview basic skills of Cantonese opera
  • Four skills and five movements
  • Introduction to Gongche notation
  • Types of rehearsals
  • Music, gongs and drums
  • Production, makeup and costumes
  • Traditions of Cantonese opera

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the workflow of how a Cantonese Opera show is prepared, including: preparation, rehearsals and backstage support
  • Distinguish the six pillars' characteristics, including: makeup, costumes, acting, singing and performance
  • Briefly the bamboo-shed theatre culture
  • Identify key areas of Cantonese Opera culture and tradition

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone who wants to learn more about Cantonese opera. No prior experience or qualifications are needed.

If you’d prefer to take this course in Chinese, you can join a Chinese-language version

Who will you learn with?

Alis Lin Yinshi (林穎施) graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Cantonese Opera. She has won awards at local and national competitions and performs worldwide.

Who developed the course?

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, established by Government Ordinance in 1984, is a leading tertiary institution in performing arts in Asia.