Huachao Opera, performed in the Hakka language, is derived from the sacrificial shenchao ceremony in Zijin County. It is popular in the Hakka district in eastern Guangdong Province.
In order to please the audience, shenchao performers usually added some songs telling the anecdotes of the latest happenings at the end of the sacrificial ceremony, which formed a sharp contrast with the sacred performance. The funny singing found itself better accepted by the audience and was named huachao.
In the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Huachao Opera developed into a mature performance art on the basis of other folk operas such as the Cantonese opera. When it reached its peak, there were 19 troupes with hundreds of artists in Zijin County.
Since the establishment of the PRC in 1949, the Huachao Troupe of Zijin County, as a professional troupe, has performed in some traditional plays and produced new plays. Its performance has improved greatly
The lyrics in Huachao opera are easy to understand, frequently using interesting slang and puns. The themes mainly derive from folklores, most of which advocate loyalty to the country, free marriage and other positive subjects.
The Huachao Opera fully displays Confucianism and attaches great importance to education, something the Hakka strongly believe in. Therefore, the Huachao Opera has important meaning and high academic value in folk literature, music, culture and religion. Nowadays, although there are still periodical performances of Huachao Opera, the size of the audiences is decreasing.