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.
We, NTLA, are deeply saddened by the news of the demise of Gen Lawa (Norbu Tsering) May his soul rest on peace!!! He is a great asset of Tibetan Opera, his demise is a great loss for all of us.
Nepal Tibetan Opera Troupe
I was fortunate to know Gen Norbu Tsering la and to work a short time with him, when he and his artist troupe from TIPA were performing in Austria. He was an amazing personality who made me understand how precious and beautiful Tibetan culture is. He was inspiration and motivation for many things I later did to promote Tibet and Tibetan artists.
I love also to think about his humor, which he used to balance my temper when I was losing patience with the artists on tour 🙂
When I visited him last in Dharamshala he said before I left: “Come back … I tell you more … Because I’m full of remembrances … there is to cry and to laugh in it.”
I pray Gen Norbu Tsering la to be reborn in a Free Tibet, again as the greatest artist of his time … Then he was Tibetan professional artist with all his heart … that is why he was good and there was no one who did not love him after having seen him performing … I experienced it, several times in sold-out halls in Austria.
My compassion is with his family … With them, I’ll miss him and always think of him when meeting TIPA or Tibetan performing art.
This is a very informative article. I had no idea that there was such a thing as Tibetan Opera. Thank you for printing this. May we all be inspired by the dedication of Norbu Tsering, la.
My very best wishes, always.
Terry Reis Kennedy
May his soul rest in peace!