What do you see as the major challenge to its existence and development? Huangmei is a young genre that began in Anhui province in the 1930s. Like the growth of a young person, it needs more nutrients. Times are changing, and so are aesthetic standards. Huangmei must change with society. Today's opera has to reflect society. Culture and economy cannot live alone. There is criticism that the move away from traditional Huangmei is going too far. What do you say to this? There will only be audiences if operas have new elements. Otherwise, the public will just see them as antiques. Techniques from different genres, say musicals, can be added to Huangmei ... it is the performers' tasks to make them blend. Do you see a crisis in that fewer young people are interested in Chinese opera? Of course, there is a crisis. It has been in a crisis for over a decade, with audiences not going to theatres. This is partly because the shows have been unattractive and the themes stale, and partly because of competition. Besides adding new features to operas, what else can be done? A market economy is very heartless, with only good quality stuff remaining in both the economy and culture. Most mainland troupes and operas are still financially backed by the government, which decides the themes, and we perform them. But operas are now in transition and I wish to speed up the process. I have been pushing two operas - The Woman from Huizhou and The Company - in the marketplace. The Woman from Huizhou was a joint venture with the government. Last year with The Company, the funding came from a Suzhou enterprise instead of the government. The opera, which is about credibility in the commercial world, is still running after being staged more than 20 times with above 90 per cent attendance. How do you go about promoting the opera? It is like marketing a product. Reputation is important. Because you have a good reputation, people will think the show is good and come. Art is a brand name. If you change Han Zaifen into a product, Han Zaifen itself will already be a brand name - but only if you don't let your audiences down. Is there a danger that popularising operas will lower quality? There is such a danger. Whether standards are lowered depends on artists' consciences. Noble artists will not use their works to pander to vulgar tastes. How long will it be before opera can operate without government support? This is still a long way away to go because there are a lot of people who have been supported by the government for a long time and transition to a market economy will take time.