S.l Calvert (engraver) and O. R. Campbell (artist), 'Chinese Theatricals in Melbourne', Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Ebenezer & David Syme, Melbourne, July 16, 1872.Contributors
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Chinese dancers, opera singers, musicians and actors entertained communities.
Major Chinese settlements such as Ballarat and Guildford (near Castlemaine) had permanent Chinese circuses and theatres. Travelling Chinese performers would set up tents to entertain audiences in other towns.
The Victorian Chinese community of the 1860s was large enough to support a number of professional musicians and actors in their midst.
Chinese Opera was a popular entertainment format, particularly Cantonese Opera or Yueju, originating from Guangdong Province. This traditional art form involving music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics and acting, had men performing the roles of women. Other types of opera were also performed on the goldfields, for instance Minju or Fujian Opera was performed in Ballarat at Golden Point where there was a large contingent of Fujianese.
European onlookers had mixed, usually negative, impressions of Chinese music and opera, describing the sounds as 'horrible music' producing a 'tremendous din'.
By the 1880s the great era of travelling Chinese performances was largely over.