RIDE THE RIVER
Find an elderly person on the streets of Guangzhou and you’ll probably hear the trebly wail of Cantonese opera playing somewhere in the background. For a certain generation, it’s the most beloved—and ubiquitous—music there is. And while Cantonese opera’s pageantry is mesmerizing—all opulent costumes, bedazzled headdresses, and portrait-like face painting—the genre’s high-pitched, often shrill singing style (interrupted with bouncy strings and gong blasts) has lost its allure among the younger generation. Its continuation as a living art form is in jeopardy. And so the Floating Opera, which combines narrative elements from Cantonese opera with contemporary stage effects (and a more up-to-date delivery), has set out to rescue this vaunted tradition. Set on a retro riverboat, it’s an interactive performance that sends audiences moving from one stage to another, complete with holograms, lasers, and state-of-the-art special effects. Kitschy? Most certainly. A revealing glimpse of Chinese tradition in the 21st century? No question. We can’t assure you’ll come away a fan of Cantonese opera (past or present), but we guarantee you’ll be entertained and edified.