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Rapport Series XXI: Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe

  • Publish Date:2019-04-04
Rapport Series XXI: Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe

Preserver of Hakka tea-picking opera

Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe (榮興客家採茶劇團) was established in 1988 for promoting and preserving traditional Hakka opera and culture. For over three decades, the troupe has produced numerous Hakka operas that were well-received. It has been registered by Miaoli County Government as intangible cultural preserver of traditional tea-picking opera.

Tea-picking opera is one of the native operas developed in Taiwan. Tea-picking opera is closely associated with the Hakka community, as most Hakka dwelled in mountainous areas where they grew tea, and tea has become part of their culture and art.

Tea-picking opera preserves the "nine accents and eighteen tones," which refers to the Hakka accents developed in different regions and the various tones of Hakka folk songs. The opera usually takes the form of a lively comedy presented with elegant performance while incorporating whimsical and humorous dialogue.

In 1986, Cheng Rom-shing (鄭榮興), the grandson of notable Hakka Tea-picking opera performer Cheng Mei-mei (鄭美妹), restructured his grandmother's opera troupe after studying traditional Hakka performing arts for years.

The next year, the new troupe was invited by the Chinese Folk-Arts Foundation to perform Hakka tea-picking opera, which received enthusiastic feedback. Following this success, Cheng registered the troupe and named it Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe in 1988.

Since its establishment, the troupe, which comprises senior and young performers, has been actively participating in domestic and international festivals and events. In 1997, the troupe also launched a Hakka opera talent incubation program to cultivate young performers.

Cheng Yue-jin (鄭月景) started serving as the troupe leader since 1998. In addition to passing on traditional art elements, she also produces new works that integrate other styles of operatic music while retaining the principle of "nine accents and eighteen tones" to keep up with new trends.

In recent years, the troupe also engages in producing music albums, videos, and TV programs, which have earned numerous Golden Bell, Golden Melody, and Golden Melody Award for Traditional Arts and Music nominations and awards.

Founder Cheng noted that he hopes to introduce Hakka culture to more people and pass on the wonders of Hakka culture through the performance arts.