Yue opera - also called the Shaoxing opera - is a newcomer among the Chinese local operas. It was originated in the beginning of the 1900s near Shanghai in a place called Shaoxing from local musical plays, which used only the ban-clapper in accompaniment of the play. The popularity of this art form began to grow in 1916, when it was performed in Shanghai to large audiences of Shaoxing origin.
Gradually, first string instruments and later other instruments were added to the orchestra, although the music was still based on the same Shaoxing melodies. The performances were, in fact, very successful.
In 1923, the training of female actors for this art form was set up. Since 1928, the Shaoxing opera troupes, consisting of solely female actors, began their performances in Shanghai. In a few years, females impersonating males had become the most important feature of this opera form, and at the same time the yue opera became well known all over China. In the Qing dynasty China (1644-1911) mixed troupes consisting of both male and female actors had been prohibited, and even in Peking opera, the lady-actors were not allowed to enter the stage together with men before 1930.
The texts of yue opera are based on romantic love stories, and they do not include acrobatics or fighting scenes. In yue opera, stage properties and light effects are used and the costumes imitate the light-colored clothes, fashionable at the beginning of this century in China. The most famous plays performed in Shaoxing style are "Liang Shanpo and Zhu Yingtai", which is a kind of Chinese version of "Romeo and Juliet", and the love dramas "The Dream of a Red Chamber" and "The Romance of a Western Chamber".