Opera is a big part of Hainan's rich cultural heritage, with its popularity owed in most part to renowned singer Huang Kuang Sheng, who is still remembered today.
Even though the origins and evolution of this music genre remain somewhat a mystery, the fact is that it has been part of the island's cultural identity for centuries and remains very much so today.
In reality, one of the biggest surprises the capital city of Haikou holds for tourists is the countless, beautifully decorated halls where hundreds of operas have been performed over the years.
With plenty of history to tell, due to various events throughout time, these places never cease to amaze the legions of visitors they receive every year, not only because of the architecture but also because of the spectacles hosted on stage.
If you're looking for a little bit of magic, make sure you get the venues on your bucket list of heritage buildings to visit in Haikou, bringing you closer to Hainan's musical history and culture.
Inside, if you book your entrance ahead, you'll be able to enjoy colourful shows. These are packed full with emotion, music, intrigue and exquisitely decorated costumes that are sure to get you hooked.
On stage, you'll always be able to see one of the five classic characters whether you’re attending a drama, action or modern Hainan opera.
These are “sheng”（生）, “dan”（旦）, “jing”（净）, “mo”（末） and “chou”（丑）, which evoke different character types. They can be classed as a young handsome male, an elegant female, a colourful character, a bearded character and extras. You certainly won’t forget their outstanding performances.
In recent years, Hainan Opera, also known as also known as Qiong Opera, has been embracing new thinking to keep this important cultural heritage alive in the face of popular and international culture, whilst continuing to appeal to older fans and supporters.
The challenge remains but there are already seventeen professional and more than a hundred other opera troupes performing in Hainan. Be sure to check them out when you visit Hainan, as you explore the rich, unique arts scene this destination has to offer.
1. Sotto Porticos Theatre (骑楼剧院)
Address: No. 33 Zhongshan Road, Qilou Old Street, Longhua District, Haikou (海口市龙华区中山路33号骑楼老街)
Located in Haikou’s Longhua Disctrict, with an overall area of 500 square metres, Sotto Porticos Theatre can hold up to 100 people.
The theatre originally opened its doors in 1903 and continued to operate throughout the years, becoming a part of Haikou. You’re invited for a visit, to feel the real spirit of the local cultural environment.
2. Hainan Qiong Opera Theater (海南琼剧院)
Address: No.69 Haifu Road, Meilan District, Haikou (海口市美兰区海府路69号)
The impressive Hainan Qiong Opera Theatre is based in Haikou’s Meilan District. If offers plenty of opportunities for visitors and locals alike to absorb its wonder and take in the culture Haikou has to offer.
The theatre has been hosting countless opera shows for years, with memorable performances of highly-acclaimed actors, full of drama that no one resists to enjoy.