Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Taiwanese Opera 美芳社歌劇團

This opera troupe (美芳社歌劇團) is from Jiali (佳里) in Tainan County. Jiali is said to be famous for its pretty girls, and all these actresses were very pretty.
I happened upon this troupe at
Nankunshen Temple’s (南鯤鯓代天府) His Highness Fanfu (5th Lord, 范府千歲) and His Highness Lifu (Great Lord, 李府千歲) joint birthday celebrations.
Several years back at a large Nankunshen
Temple celebration I witnessed six opera troupes and three puppet trucks set up in front of Wanshan temple (萬善堂). All the stages were side by side with each troupes speaker drowning out the next; truly renao. Although I thought this was just a crazy Taiwanese love for opera and chaos, I now believe that spectacle was a Taiwanese opera lei tai (擂台). Lei tai is kind of a cross between a stage fight/competition/performance, as I understand it. Pertaining to Taiwanese opera, it is when many troupes compete at a festival or temple. The pay scale is related to the size of the audience they attract and sometimes only the troupes with the largest audiences get paid. I have heard that there is a large element of gambling at these events. This is believable as Taiwanese love to gamble, especially mafia types, and temple festivals attract significant amount of mafia.
I have been hoping to see this spectacle again for several years and always look for it when I go to Nankunshen festivals. This year there was but one troupe and they were tucked in behind all the busses in the parking lot to the north of the temple.
It was, however, a great opportunity for photos. I needn’t worry about getting in spectators way when trying to get a good angle, because I was the only spectator.

No spectators is often the case with daytime Taiwanese operas and puppet shows as they are there solely for the gods (and sometimes ghosts) appreciation.There were so many people at the festival and I’m sure there would have been some that would have enjoyed a good opera. Why were they tucked off to the side with no seats for spectators?I love backstage shots.She was backstage too, checking herself in the mirror, but I cropped out the mirror. It has been a while since I have seen a good Taiwanese opera. Thoroughly enjoyable!


Here is a link to their blog

One response

  1. Pingback: Weekly Links – June 24, 2010 « The Daily Bubble Tea

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