The Baat Woh Cantonese Opera Association of Thailand was inaugurated on 2nd November 2021. This auspicious day is the birthday of the Chinese God of cultural arts, “Huaguang”. The opening ceremony was held at Baat Woh Clubhouse in Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was presided by Mr. Lee Sheung-yuen, Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Bangkok.
Ms. Winnie Poon, who generously contributed to the enrichment of Chinese Cantonese opera culture, has been appointed as the first founding Chairperson of the association in Thailand. Key founding members include Ms. Chow Siu Kwan, Grace Kwok, Annie Hung, Kathleen Pokrud and Civic Leung. Other key committees include members of the Hong Kong Ladies’ Group Thailand and long time Hong Kong residents in Bangkok.
Cantonese Opera was designated in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. As one of the major styles of Chinese operas, Cantonese Opera is a highly respected and much-loved arts form that blends Chinese legend, music and drama into a vibrant performance style that’s rich with symbolic meaning. It is very popular with audiences in southern China and many parts of Southeast Asia.
Mr. David Lau, Honorary Advisor, led the worshipping ceremony of Chinese God “Huaguang”. Many distinguished guests attended the event from various prominent Chinese associations. They included Ms. Sarintr Tsai, Honorary Chairman and members of the Thai Cantonese Opera Club, Dr. Jaruthien, Vice President of Kwong Siew Association of Thailand, Ms. Alice Wong, Honorary Chairman of the Thai-Chinese Women’s Association, Mr. Jose Lai, Vice President of Thai Hong Kong Trade Association and Mr. Roger Wu, HK social media influencer. The celebrities and VIPs of Cantonese opera from various countries and other Baat Woh associations abroad sent in video congratulatory clips. Hong Kong senior performing artist, Mr. S. H. Yeung Gary assisted in coordinating many congratulatory videos from the Cantonese opera community in Hong Kong.
With the opening speech, Ms. Winnie Poon explained, “Thailand, due to the different language environment, has brought great challenges to the development of Cantonese opera. The song needs to be translated first, and then the local children are taught to pronounce and utter words “word by word”. The time spent is three to four times that of ordinary learning. Cantonese opera requires an accompanying musical band. I was fortunate enough to use a group of Teo Chew music masters. I needed to slowly organize the music books for them, which cost a lot of manpower and material resources. Coupled with the raging Covid pandemic, only online learning can be arranged. Fortunately, with the members’ perseverance and hard work, participation in the online Cantonese opera and gongs and drum courses were strong.”
In his speech, Mr Lee Sheung-yuen, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Bangkok, expressed his great pleasure to be invited to attend the opening ceremony. He highly praised everyone’s efforts, especially the persistence and dedication of the Hong Kong Cantonese opera enthusiast, Chairperson Winnie Poon. Director Lee congratulated on the establishment of Baat Woh Association in Thailand. He looked forward to seeing the wonderful performance of Thai performers in the world-class performance venue of Xiqu Center in Hong Kong in the near future.
The objective of Baat Woh Cantonese Opera Association of Thailand is to pass on the culture of Cantonese Opera. This provides the opportunity of Thai friends to learn about Chinese culture. When the world overcomes the pandemic situation, Baat Woh Thailand plans to hold an official grand opening charity concert next year, and hope to receive full support and participation from everyone!