Prof. Leung Bo Wah headed the “Collaborative Project on Teaching Cantonese Opera in Primary and Secondary Schools”, which spanned four years from 2009. The project earned him the prestigious Musical Rights Award from the International Music Council of Unesco in 2011.
In his study, Leung recommended that the Education Bureau should encourage primary and secondary schools to offer Cantonese opera as an extracurricular activity so pupils could encounter the art form from an early age, in view of the shortage of competent and suitable applicants for bachelor degree programmes in institutions such as the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. “No one can start learning the genre at 17 or 18 years old – it is too old. They have to start at around 10 to 11,” he says.
The youths out to save Hong Kong's unique opera
Although there are more than 1,000 Cantonese opera performances in Hong Kong each year, "you can argue that the majority of the audience are old or retired people", says Leung Bo Wah, a Professor of the Department of Cultural and Creative Arts at the Education University of Hong Kong.
It is one of the art forms that best represent local Hong Kong culture, almost part of its very identity. People "feel this is our own kind of art form" because it uses Cantonese, the language spoken in southern China.
University of Nottingham China Policy Institute
There are more than 350 kinds of Chinese opera, of which Peking opera is the most famous internationally. It has been argued that Chinese opera should be called ‘xiqu‘ (戲曲 literally, theatre and music), because it concentrates not only on music but also involves recitation, acting, movement, dance, and martial arts; all these elements combine together to bring out the story. As the most representative Chinese opera genre in Guangdong province , Cantonese opera has been popular since the late 19th century. However, facing keen competition on the one hand from other art forms and entertainment such as movies, theater, and popular songs, while on the other suffering from the fact that the younger generation lacks both knowledge and interest, its appeal has undergone a steady decline over the years. In 2009, Cantonese opera (also known as Yueju 粵劇) was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Since then, the Hong Kong government has committed itself to the promotion of the genre through different channels….