Discover Penang’s Chinese Teochew Opera
I love Penang because it’s always bursting with traditional culture and heritage. One of the most intriguing is the Teochew operas. The Chinese art form brings together literature, drama, and music. During a performance you are likely to see acting and singing with martial arts from characters in bright make up and fancy embroidered costumes. It’s a real treat for the senses!
The opera has a history of over 500 years, and was brought in by the Teochow communities that emigrated from their homeland in China’s Shantou Province. Characters fall into two categories: refined scholars, maidens or the wealthy, and warriors and hunters, who demonstrate their skills in martial arts.
Georgetown is your best bet for catching some live opera, particularly at Penang’s oldest Chinese temple, the Kuan Yin Teng, during festival times. There’s also the Teochew Puppet and Opera House at 122 Armenian Street, a museum dedicated to all things Chinese opera music and theatre. Look for Mrs Goh, who runs the place. She has been performing in Chinese opera since she was 7, and has toured all over Malaysia. She has some unique stories to tell…
In the mood for opera? Ask my team if any new stages are being set up during your stay. These multi-coloured structures built from bamboo scaffold are a sight to behold in themselves.