Taizhou Luantan

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-14

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Taizhou Luantan is a local opera with a history of nearly 400 years, originating in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the early Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). [Photo/zjtz.gov.cn]

Taizhou Luantan is a local opera with a history of nearly 400 years, originating in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the early Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). 

Formerly known as Huangyan Luantan, Taizhou Luantan is listed by the Ministry of Culture as one of the 318 local operas in China.

In 2016, it was designated as a national intangible cultural heritage.

Its name originates from a story. When Emperor Qianlong made a southern tour in 1791 (the 55th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign of Qing Dynasty), salt merchants in Huainan and Huaibei areas assembled over 100 troupes from across the country to welcome him in Yangzhou. Local officials divided the troupes into two sections – the elegant and the variegated. The elegant referred to Kunshan Opera and the variegated referred to operas of other types, which were later called “Luantan". 

The opera is performed in the Taizhou dialect in a tone popular in Central China and accompanied by instruments such as the flute, suona, gong and drum. It is distinctive and easy to understand.

The opera has many unique stunts, such as Shuaya, performing with false teeth, Gangcha chuandu, poking a steel yoke into belly and fireball shows.

Outside of Taizhou, the opera is also popular in cities such as Wenzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Jinhua, and Lishui in Zhejiang.

In recent years, the opera has also been performed in countries such as Germany and South Korea.