A Night at the Teochew Opera


Teochew opera originated in the southeastern part of China and has been around for over 500 years. It was especially popular in Singapore in the 1960's. Teochew opera, sometimes referred to as wayang, is a very unique type of theatrical performance involving elaborate costumes and makeup, singing, dancing, and fanwork.

Jeff and I were invited to watch the Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association perform an opera at the Singapore Food Trail recently. This theater troupe formed in Singapore in 1931 and has played an important role in keeping Teochew opera alive in Singapore.
The performers took several hours to get ready. Their makeup and headdresses are so elaborate.

Getting ready to perform is a group effort. 

Traditional music was performed for the audience before the opera began.

We were served food from just about every stall at the Singapore Food Trail. More on that later.

The performance begins.
The opera we saw was called "The Fragrant Handkerchief."

To give you an idea of what a Teochew opera looks and sounds like in action, I filmed this little video for you. When you hear the word "opera," these are not the sounds that come to mind. Operas like this one have been performed on outdoor stages in Singapore for decades. I wish there were subtitles so I could follow along better, but the performance was still very entertaining and we had a really good time.

Thanks to the folks at the Urban Redevelopment Authority for inviting us, and to Belinda and Chloe for showing us a great evening! 


  1. Wow! That looks like a very special evening!

  2. great post and brings back the memories of a wonderful evening 'at the opera'!!

  3. As a kid I loved wayang (although at that age I referred to it as "dong-chiang dong-chiang" because of the sounds the cymbals made. It was quite common too, during festivals and celebrations in our own HDB estates. But you see a lot less of it nowadays, which is a huge pity.

  4. cool, what an awesome show to see


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