Opera master Norbu Tsering passes away

Tibetan opera master Norbu Tsering

Tibetan opera master Norbu Tsering poses for a photo during the 50th anniversary of Tibetan Institution of Performing Arts (Tipa) in McLeod Ganj, India, on 2 December 2009. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 15 March 2013

Tibetan opera master Norbu Tsering passed away at Delek Hospital in McLeod Ganj on Thursday evening after a prolonged illness. He was 86.

Tsering served as the opera master at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) from the late 60s until he retired in 1996.

He was one of the pioneers in re-establishing Ache Lhamo (Tibetan opera) in exile for future generations. He trained hundreds of artists during his tenure at the Institute.

Norbu Tsering was born in 1927 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and became a part of the Kyomolung Opera Troupe at a young age. He fought the Chinese invaders in 1959 in Lhasa, but was later captured at gunpoint and imprisoned for nine months. He escaped to India in 1961.

One of his students currently living in the US, Techung aka Tashi Dhondup Sharzur, in an email to Tibet Sun wrote: “The Tibetan community and the musical world have lost a great opera teacher and master — Ghen Norbu Tsering la.

“His students have carried his legacy throughout the world, and shared his art form from the Sydney Opera House to the Smithsonian Folk Festival.”

Ache Lhamo, or the Tibetan opera, is a combination of dances, chants, songs, and satires. The repertoire is based on Buddhist parables and Tibetan history. This art form was created by Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo in around 1430 to raise money for building bridges, and also to impart Buddhist teachings to the general public through art and entertainment.

Italian publisher LegendA published Norbu Tsering’s biography in 1999. It was written by Antonio Attisani.

According to a staff member at TIPA, Norbu Tsering will be cremated on Saturday morning at the McLeod Ganj cremation site at 6 am.

Norbu Tsering leaves a wife and six children.

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