Teo Chew opera or Chaozhou opera is one of the ten major operas in China. The opera itself is derived from a branch of Southern Drama in Song and Yuan Dynasty, and was established in the Ming Dynasty. Chaozhou Opera was a local opera in Chaoshan district, which was one of the three major operas in Guangdong and in the top 10 major operas in China. Chaozhou opera has carved more than 500 years of history in the Chinese culture.
Chaozhou opera is an incredible art form in China, has high reputation and popularity both within and beyond the country. With graceful lyrics, this opera shows local characteristics of Chaoshan. A number of Chaozhou operas were even made into movies and are played in various countries. Chaozhou opera troupe are often invited to perform throughout China and the world because of its uniqueness.
The main attraction of Chaozhou opera is the typical makeups and beautiful songs, which are very attractive to people in the East of Guangdong, South of Fujian and countries in Southeast Asia.
Musical instruments that are commonly used for Chaozhou opera include two-stringed fiddles, Jehus (two-stringed fiddle in coconut), flutes, drums, Shenbos (sunken into flat gong), gongs and so forth.
In ancient times, Chaozhou opera has 7 roles: the Shen, Dan, Jing, Mo, Chou, Wai and Tie roles. Now, the roles have been developed into 10 types of Chou roles, 7 types of Dan roles, 5 kinds of Shen roles, and 3 types of Jing roles. The most well-known role in Chaozhou opera is called “Three Xiaos”, including Xiaosheng (young male character), Xiaodan (young female character) and Xiaochou (young clown character), which are collectively called the “Flower of South China”.