One of the five local forms of opera, Gaojia has been newly recognized by the government as part of China's cultural heritage. Gaojia Opera is very popular in South Fujian, Taiwan and areas of Southeast Asia where Minnanhua is spoken.
Gaojia emerged at the end of the Ming and early Qing Dynasty. At first, it was an improvised form which was part of a religious parade. Later it developed into Songjiang drama, which involved plenty of acrobatic fighting and a rather simple plot. In the middle of the Qing Dynasty it absorbed the influences of a number of other performance traditions, and expanded the range of plots considerably. By the late Qing it was mixing Hui Opera (from Anhui) Beijing Opera and Yiyang music (an improvised percussive folk music) into a unique style.
Gaojia Opera uses Southern Music for its scores. The music is also influenced by Liyuan Opera — another local form. The tenor of the music varies according to the role of the singer onstage. It can be bold and unconstrained, fine and smooth or lively and lighthearted. Gaojia Opera has particularly good female (dan) and clown (chou) roles. The dancing of the clown is in imitation of puppets, and can be very funny indeed. Since the 1950s, Gaojia has developed fast. There are Gaojia troupes spread all over South Fujian. There have also been a series of excellent new opera which have received critical and popular praise: Promoted Three Times, Dreaming of the Emperor's Bedchamber, Jade Chain, Jin Kuixing, and The Party of Golden Sword.
Xiamen Jin Liansheng Gaojia Opera Troupe is one of the most famous troupes. The name reflects its embrace of the whole region, combining the Jin of Jinmen with the name of a district in Tong'an. The troupe has been invited to perform in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines many times, and has always been well received.