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Can high-tech save ancient operas?
2005-01-24 00:27:25 XinhuaEnglish

BEIJING, Jan. 24-- Chinese cultural researchers will adapt modern computer and video technologies to set up a national audio and video database for Chinese traditional operas.

The practice, launched jointly by the Chinese Academy of Arts and provincial-level art research institutes across the country, hopes to preserve the nation's t
raditional operas, according to Wang Wenzhang, president of the academy.

The rapid globalization and the influence of foreign cultures in China have caused unprecedented challenges to the survival of Chinese traditional opera, which has been evidenced by more and more traditional operas vanishing, said Wang.

Statistics show there were 367 types of traditional operas in China at the end of 1950s, but the number has dropped dramatically to 267, and some of them are now extinct.

"If we do not take practical measures to preserve the traditional operas still alive, some of them will disappear very soon," said Liu Wenfeng, deputy director of the research institute of traditional Chinese operas at the academy.

Liu, who is in charge of the project, said the academy is planning to spend one and half years to set up the database. It will include outstanding repertoires of traditional opera troupes as well as masterpieces by famous performers.

The academy so far has collected more than 40,000 gramophone records of traditional operas, 15,000 hours of audio recordings and 2,000 hours of video recordings of Chinese traditional opera.

Such collection has provided favourable conditions for setting up the database, according to Liu.

"However, what the academy possessed includes only those materials related to major traditional operas, such as Peking Opera and Kunqu," said Liu, adding that those traditional operas popular among small populations of audiences are not included.

"That is why we ask provincial-level art research institutes to take part in the project so that more local operas could be found and included in the database," said Liu.

Thanks to modern computer technology, these materials will be finally turned into digital products and put on the Internet, he said.

Once the database is established, all materials will be available to Internet users from both home and abroad."Such practice will be conducive to promoting academic exchanges between Chinese and overseas researchers," Liu added.

(Source: China Daily)

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