Chinese Culture: Beijing Opera
Beijing Opera, or Peking Opera, traces its roots to outdoor entertainment in China's markets and streets.
Both musicians and performers developed a "strident" style to make themselves overheard above the crowds. Beijing Opera can also include mime and acrobatics.
Performances of Beijing Opera are accompanied by a small ensemble of traditional melodic and percussion instruments including the jinghu, a high pitched two string fiddleand the ruan, a type of lute. The action begins begins and the audience is summoned by the beating of the daluo and xiaoluo, a set of large and small cymbals.
Although called Beijing Opera or formally Peking Opera, the art form originated in Anhui and Hubei provinces in south central China, and became popular in the mid-nineteenth century when it was patronized by the Qing Dynasty court in the capital..
Beijing Opera runs to over 1,000 storylines based on historical events, popular fiction and Chinese legends.
There are 4 main actors' roles sheng, dan, jing, chou which are further sub-divided:
sheng - leading male roles
- laosheng - bearded old men
- xiaosheng - young men
- wensheng - public servants, scholars and sages
- wusheng - soldiers (acrobats)
dan - female roles
- loadan - older women
- qingyi - costumed aristocrats
- daomadan - Chinese Amazons
- caidan - female comics
jing - painted face parts of warriors, demons, statesmen.
chou - the clown.
Beijing Opera singer back stage
Beijing Opera Venues
Changan Grand Theater
Tel: 6510 1309
Jianguomen Subway Station; Circle & East-West Lines
Lao She Teahouse
Tel: 6303 6830
Hepingmen Subway Station; Circle Line
Old Station Theater
Evening performances/afternoon Sundays
Tel: 8284 3316
Qianmen Subway Station; Circle Line
Performances of Beijing Opera are also held at Prince Gong's Residence in summer.
Beijing Opera performer