Peking Opera

Related news: Experience Beijing, a series of events introducing traditional Chinese culture organized by Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchanges Center (BCEC), was held at Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Troupe last weekend. A group of foreign expats living in Beijing learned about the art of Peking Opera.

[Photo: China daily]

Peking Opera 京剧 jīng jù

As one of the opera that started in Beijing, Beijing opera has a history of over 200 years. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty loved the theatre. At the beginning, there was no Beijing opera. Kunqu opera(昆曲) was the most popular, but Emperor Qianlong gradually became bored with the this style. Various local opera were brought to Beijing to please the emperor. Drawing on the merits of these local operas, the new Beijing opera came into being and became Qianlong’s favorite.

Later, it became popular among the public. Beijing opera gradually became the most influential style of opera in China and was named the “national treasure”(国粹) of China. It is popular among not only the Chinese but also many foreigners.

[Photo: China daily]

Beijing opera has four roles: sheng(生), dan(旦), jing(净) and chou(丑). Sheng is the main male role. Dan refers to any female role. Jing is the painted-face male role with distinctive temperament, character or appearance. Chou is a male clown role with a small patch of white chalk around the nose. Renowned Beijing opera artist Mei Lanfang(梅兰芳) was famous for his skillful portrayal of female roles, with his beautifully rhymed and sweet arias and exquisite performances.

[chàng qiāng]  唱腔 aria
[liǎn pǔ]  脸谱facial painting
[jué sè] 角色 role
[guó cuì]  国粹 national treasure