Hong Kong Cantonese Opera in Imagined Modernity = 想像現代化中的粵劇

Streaming Media


Master of Cultural Studies (MCS) Programme, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University

Document Type

Public Lecture




3:30 p.m. -- 5:00 p.m.


Online Session via Zoom


Cultural Studies


The last hundred years of history of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong has been a story of syncretism in its interaction with modern social reality (that by definition, like it or not, for better or worse, means “already westernized”): from adapting European musical instruments, modern stories, and Euro-American movies in the early decades of the twentieth century, to European operatic aria style and digital stage technology a hundred years after. It is not that Cantonese opera was ahead of the other regional Chinese operatic forms in responding to the West, or pioneered in many “new” attempts. It is just that anything that goes, Cantonese opera practitioners take, for survival. In this talk we shall interrogate how Hong Kong Cantonese opera, in negotiating the ineluctable encroachment of (Euro)modernity that threatens traditional intangible cultural heritage of all kinds, has imagined its “modernity” in its creativity and production as a tactic of sustainability in modern society. We shall discuss musical and theatrical aspects of Hong Kong Cantonese opera’s “modern imaginations” in practice, and examine the efficacy of the many imaginative practices that would be effective, empowering, incomplete, futile, or failed.



Additional Information


Yu Siu Wah is the chief editor of the Hong Kong volumes of Chinese Opera Annals and Anthology of Chinese Opera Music, and Adjunct Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University and of the Music Department at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Yu’s research interests include organology, instrumental music, Chinese music history, Chinese Music theatre, music of the Manchus and Mongols in the Qing court, popular music, movie music and cultural politics in the music of Hong Kong. He has also received training in nanyin, a form of Cantonese narrative singing.

余少華,哈佛大學音樂學博士,其研究範圍包括清代宮廷滿蒙音樂、中國戲曲、中國器樂及樂器、香港音樂、音樂與政治等;近年涉足國、粵、廈、潮語等方言電影音樂,積極推動香港音樂研究。 余氏自2013年起參與嶺南大學《中國戲曲志(香港卷)》等書編纂計劃,任主編,並為嶺南大學文化研究系及香港中文大學音樂系兼任教授。

Li Siu Leung, currently Adjunct Professor at Lingnan University and Research Fellow of its Centre for Cultural Research and Development, was previously Head of Lingnan’s Cultural Studies, Adjunct Professor in the Music Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has published on Chinese opera and transgender, Hong Kong film and popular culture, as well as comparative literary studies. Li has also served on various advisory committees of the HAB, LCSD, and professional performing arts organisations.


Recommended Citation

Yu, S. W., & Li, S. L. (2021, April 30). Hong Kong Cantonese Opera in Imagined Modernity = 想像現代化中的粵劇 [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/872/