JON LIN CHUA
Commissioned by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra。
Lingering Resonances of the Street Opera Gongs is a modern reflection of the Hokkien street opera tradition in Singapore. Hokkien gezai opera (lit. “opera of little ditties”) gained popularity in Singapore in the 1920s due to its accessibility in character and use of well-known Hokkien folk tunes. In its heyday, Hokkien street opera performances drew large crowds, and the top opera stars were treated as celebrities. Today, these opera stars have aged or passed on, street performances are mostly drawing a small crowd, if any at all, and many local troupes have declined, with the closing down of some of the oldest and most established Hokkien opera troupes in recent years. Hokkien street opera performances have ceased to become a mode of entertainment in mainstream consciousness today, and are mostly only associated with Chinese folk religious worship. Through the ears of the contemporary listener, can we still hear the lingering resonances of the street opera gongs, lost in the echoes from the streets of old Singapore?