Since Singapore declared independence from Malaysia in 1965, Chinese street opera has played a significant role in defining Singaporean identity. 1997 IDRF Fellow Tong Soon Lee reflects on their role in fostering cultural nationalism and entrepreneurship by carefully tracing the history of amateur and professional performances in Singapore. In performing Chinese street opera, amateur troupes preserve their rich heritage by underscoring the Confucian mind-set that a learned person engages in the arts for moral and unselfish purposes. Their performances bring together diverse ethnic groups to watch and to perform, Lee argues, while also encouraging a national attitude focused on both remembering the past and preparing for the future in Singapore. Finally, he explains that the government welcomes Chinese street opera performance because they combine tradition and modernism and promote a national culture that brings together Singapore’s four main ethnic groups–Eurasian, Malay, Chinese, and South Asian. Buy from Amazon

Publication Details

Chinese Street Opera in Singapore
Lee, Tong Soon
University of Illinois / University of Illinois Press
Publish Date
Lee, Tong Soon, Chinese Street Opera in Singapore (University of Illinois / University of Illinois Press, 2008).