Nanxi (南戏), the Southern Opera, refers to the Han ethnic opera from the late Northern Song to the late Ming and the early Qing dynasties. The opera was created in theWenzhouregion when the Song government fled south. At the time, it was also known as chuanqi (传奇 drama), xiwen (戏文 play) as well as the Wenzhou Zaju (温州杂剧 Wenzhou Opera), the Yongjia Zaju (永嘉杂剧 Yongjia Opera), and the Yongjia Xiqu (永嘉戏曲 Yongjia Play). Drawing on local folk singing styles, the Southern Opera first developed on the basis of village operas without any traces of palace styles and rhymes, and it was noted for being natural and smooth in singing. A Tale of the Pipa, a play by Gao Ming (c. 1305–1370), marked the maturity of the Southern Opera. The Southern Opera inherited the Song zaju and heralded the emergence of chuanqi of the Ming Dynasty. Chuanqi plays were long enough to accommodate multiple roles and all performers sang. The Southern Opera masterpieces include The Romance of a Hairpin, The Story of the White Rabbit, The Moonlight Pavilion, and The Killing of a Dog. Many operas in southernChinawere created based on the Southern Opera.
- （龙楼景、丹墀秀 ）皆金门高之女也，俱有姿色，专工南戏。 （夏庭芝《青楼集》） （（龙楼景、丹墀秀）都是金门高的女儿，都长得很漂亮，擅长表演南戏。）
Longloujing and Danchixiu were both daughters of Jinmengao. They were beautiful and good at giving South Opera performances. （Xia Tingzhi: Pleasure House Collection）
- 金元人呼北戏为杂剧，南戏为戏文。 （何良俊《四友斋丛说·词曲》） （金、元时代的人把北戏称作杂剧，南戏称作戏文。）
The Northern Opera was known as zaju and the Southern Opera as xiwen in the Jin and Yuan dynasties. （He Liangjun: Works from the Four-Scholar Study）