15-year-old Teochew opera singer keeping a dying art alive

Teochew opera has a rich and illustrious history dating back hundreds of years. It is primarily performed on special occasions for deities on their birthdays or to express gratitude for blessings received, to show off the wealth of a clan during the performance of ancestral sacrificial rites, or to appease hungry ghosts in the 7th Lunar Month.

However, Teochew opera is considered a dying art. Most of the people who watch Teochew opera are of the older generations; young people express little interest in watching, least of all performing. However, one young girl is injecting fresh young blood and helping to keep this age-old tradition alive.

Tan Wei Tian is an ordinary schoolgirl at Nanyang Girls’ High in the day. Juggling schoolwork, CCA, and opera is no small feat.

“There have been instances where I’ve had to sleep at 2 am in the morning,” she tells Great Big Story. She also says that she has faced stigma from older performers, who initially doubted her ability to perform due to her young age.

However, she considers it a worthwhile sacrifice.

“Youngsters don’t appreciate, and won’t perform and learn this art form. We need more youngsters to learn and pass down this art form so it won’t die off.”

Tan Wei Tian, in an interview with Today.

She tells Today that she will keep performing Teochew opera as she genuinely loves it and has a passion for it. Moreover, it is a way for her to carry on the culture and heritage of her ancestors, keeping alive this precious tradition.

Props to her for her dedication and contributions to Singapore’s arts and culture!

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