Qingqiang is the typical opera of Shaanxi province. It is the oldest of all the Chinese operas that are still in existence today. During its long history, more than 4000 traditional programs have been accumulated, which outnumbers those of any other local opera.
Different versions reveal that Shaanxi Opera possibly originated in the Qin, the Han, the Tang, Jin, the Ming or the Qing dynasties, but the Tang seems most likely to the answer. It is said that Emperor Xuan Zong, Li Longji, once set up an institute called "Liyuan" for performer training. Royal music and folk songs were taught there. Once the musician Li Guinean composed a program "The First Qin Emperor Breaks through Round-ups". The program was later called "Emperor Qin’s Opera", or "Qin Opera". Poems in the Song Dynasty also posed their influence on Shaanxi Opera, and bettered both its content and style. Shaanxi Opera can be divided into the western style and the eastern style. Sichuan Bangzi belongs to the western, while Shanxi Opera, Henan Opera, and Hebei Bangzi belong to the eastern. As a matter of fact, Shaanxi Opera is well worthy of the name "ancestor of all Chinese local operas".
This distinctive opera is actually more local yodeling than real opera! This type of singing originated in the fields and countryside surrounding Xian when locals who used to shout to one another across the fields gradually developed a system of the song to enable them to communicate!
The Qingqiang singing is great fun and the elderly residents of Xian take particular delight in it even today.
If you want to see the real thing, there are often performances on at the Changan Grand Theatre in Xian. Locals also practice their singing in the parks and down by the river! The old city walls are another popular stage for wanna be stars! (Source: Xi'an discovery)