Mulian Opera

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Mulian Opera (目连戏), recognized as the "living spirit of Chinese theater," is one of the earliest theatric genres in China. Without scripts and scores, the opera was passed down orally by the elderly. It was named from a tale originated from Buddhist scriptures, in which the hero Mulian rescued his mother from hell. Many performers in the opera wear ghost-like make-up, so the opera is also called "Gui Xi" (鬼戏), literally translated as "Ghost Opera." Although the opera is themed with filial piety, it has been integrated with other folk stories, sideshows and acrobatics. For hundreds of years, it had enjoyed great popularity and could be staged all night for nine consecutive days. However, the opera became less popular in 1920s and was on the brink of extinction by the 1980s. Fortunately, it was listed as part of China’s intangible cultural heritage in 2006. From then on, the ancient art has been revitalized and popularized.
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