The Chinese street opera of Singapore may have flourished in one of Asia’s most booming economical environments, but it has retained many strong ties with its ritual and spiritual past. As Paul van der Veer’s photos in this book so lovingly illustrate. These pictures provide an impression of Chinese Opera at its most intimate. Not just a matter of going backstage: the photographer’s eye has been able to capture the actors in moments of private reflection as well as in their full stage glory and in the context of street theatre, one of the oldest forms of human artistic endeavour. We can glimpse the continuing excitement and the true extent of the actors’ fascination with an age-old genre. Not to speak of the great visual beauty of Chinese Opera, which radiates from every page.

For anyone with a general interest in Chinese Opera, this book, with its elaborate documentation, offers a splendid introduction to the world of the Chinese theatre. For specialists, it has the added attraction of setting a challenge: in these pictures one may discover many subtle aspects which distinguish Chinese street opera in Singapore from its many pendants on the Chinese mainland.

Frank Kouwenhoven
Director of CHIME, The European Foundation for
Chinese Music Research