Three Taiwanese opera troupes will stage free performances in central and southern Taiwan in June and July to promote the traditional art form, according to the organizers.
Named "Crazy about Taiwanese Opera,” the 2013 leg of the decade-old program will feature the Ming-Chu Girls' Taiwanese Opera Troupe, the Yi Ren Taiwanese Opera Troupe and the Shiu-Kim Taiwanese Opera Troupe.
The tour, to begin from June 21 at the central county of Nantou, is part of a project launched by the National Culture and Arts Foundation in 2003 to encourage Taiwanese opera troupes to create innovative new shows.
'The biggest feature of our production this year is that it will be set in 19th century Europe,' stated Yvonne Lin, executive producer of Ming-Chu Girls' Taiwanese Opera Troupe.
Lin said the production, which is slated for showings in Nantou, Kaohsiung and Tainan, is a black comedy about a European royal court and was inspired by the family history of Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming Dynasty who overturned the Dutch occupation of Taiwan.
She said the Taiwanese-language opera is set in Europe because the director was inspired by European court dramas performed by the all-female Japanese musical theater troupe Takarazuka Revue, who recently visited Taiwan in April.
All of the music and postures had to be altered to incorporate Western rhythms and dances, Lin explained, adding that it will be the first time her 53-year-old troupe has performed a Taiwanese play with a European twist.
Meanwhile, the Yi Ren Taiwanese Opera Troupe will include references to the ongoing avian influenza in its new opera, which tells of a legendary phoenix bird involved in the mysterious death of a human.
The third group in this year's program, the Shiu-Kim Taiwanese Opera Troupe, will perform a show about a deity who has violated the laws of heaven to save his mother, only to find himself being appointed head judge for a similar crime later on.
So far, various local troupes have staged 160 performances in townships around Taiwan under the project, according to the National Culture and Arts Foundation.
Chen Chin-cheng, executive director of the foundation, said he hopes the tour will help bring back more audiences for Taiwanese opera, which was once a popular form of entertainment.
The three operas will be performed June 21-23 at the Dunhe Temple in Nantou, June 28-30 at the Kaizhang Shengwang Temple in Kaohsiung and July 5-7 at the Anping Kaitai Matsu Temple in Tainan.