Guilin Opera is popular
in Guangxi Province and is one of China’s 10 major forms of opera. This kind of opera utilizes Guilin local dialect and Southwestern Mandarin. Guilin Opera originated during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) when the artform spread to Guilin from the north where it was adapted by local people. Guilin Opera focuses on shaping characters with exquisite detail and life-like performance. Although they often have military themes, most Guilin Opera performances are characterized by their singing and acting styles.

Guilin Opera is deeply related to Qi opera traditions of southern Hunan Province. In the past, artists from these two regions worked and studied together, so their theatrical traditions have similar names and singing styles. Many Guilin Opera scripts are borrowed from Beijing Opera; only 40 original scripts are performed exclusively in Guilin Opera. Most Guilin Opera shows are presented at temple fairs where actors give uninhibited, simple performances that tell historical stories. In cities, where opera tends to be a bit more sophisticated, performances often center on stories about young men and women.

Guilin Opera actor on stage during a show

Caidiao is another kind of theater in Guangxi Province that originates from singing and dancing traditions of the Guilin countryside. It is livelier and easy to follow compared with Guilin Opera. Stories in Caidio are lifelike and express the traditions of local ethnic minority groups. Actors generally speak and sing at the same time. Caidiao stories usually center around romance between men and women, or the admiration of nature. Fans and handkerchiefs are common stage props. Actors will often use these items to imitate other materials, bringing a greater sense of fantasy to the audience.

Guilin Opera musicians performing

Want to learn even more about the diverse, fascinating traditions of Chinese opera? Find out how CLI’s program options can greatly enhance your understanding of Chinese language and culture. We look forward to enjoying a night out at the opera house with you soon!

Guilin Opera Performers in full costume and makeup


Chinese Vocabulary Related to Guilin Opera:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 中国戏曲 zhōngguó xìqǔ Chinese opera
2. 桂剧 guìjù Guangxi Opera
3. 舞台 wǔtái stage
4. 演出 yǎnchū performance
5. 表演 biǎoyǎn show
6. 演员 yǎnyuán actors
7. 歌手 gēshǒu singer
8. 戏剧 xìjù drama
9. 音乐 yīnyuè music
10. 戏服 xì fú clothing (only used for theatre)
11. 戏妆 xì zhuāng makeup (only used for theatre)
12. 音乐剧 yīnyuè jù musical theater
13. 剧院 jùyuàn theater
14. 艺术 yìshù art
15. 歌剧院 gē jùyuàn Opera house
16. 后台 hòutái backstage
17. 舞台艺术 wǔtái yìshù stage arts
18. 观众 guānzhòng audience
19. 头饰 tóushì head ornament
20. 传统乐器 chuántǒng yuèqì traditional music instrument
21. 二胡 èrhú erhu (two-stringed bowed musical instrument)
22. drum
23. 月琴 yuèqín zither
24. luó gong (musical percussion instrument)

CLI offers multiple program options for those interested in learning in China