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Beijing Opera: China’s National Treasure
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Beijing Opera is the quintessence of China. The largest Chinese opera form, it is extolled as 'Oriental Opera'. Having a history of 160 years, it has created many 'firsts' in Chinese dramas: the abundance of repertoires, the number of artists, opera troupes and spectators.

Beijing Opera is developed from absorbing many other dramatic forms, mostly from the local drama 'Huiban' which was popular in South China during the 18th century. It is a scenic art integrating music, performance, literature, aria, and face-painting. Different from regional plays, it is stricter on the variety of the workmanship. The combination of virtual and reality - a special technique of expression, keeps it largely free from the restriction of time and space on stage performance.

  • Main Roles in Beijing Opera Performance

>> Sheng: It's a common name of male characters and composed of Lao Sheng and Xiao Sheng. Lao Sheng refers to the middle-aged man with a beard who acts as the decency figure, while Xiao Sheng means young man without a beard.
>> Dan: The general name for female characters can be divided into Zhengdan, Huadan, Laodan, Wudan.
>> Jing: Painted face often refers to male characters with unique appearance or personality.

Sheng Dan Jing

 

  • Facial Painting (Lianpu)

Lianpu is formed through dramatic artists' long-term practice and their understanding and judgment of the roles in plays. It is the colorful dressing on actors' faces. By using transformative and exaggerated figures, professional spectators would easily tell the characteristic of a role. In this way, it is called 'the picture of hearts'. There are certain formats of the facial painting in the aspect of color, type and shape. Usually, eyes, foreheads and cheeks are painted like wings of butterflies, swallows and bats.

Facial Painting in Beijing Opera

 

  • Stage Properties (Qimo)

Qimo is a general designation for all kinds of stage properties and simple settings used in Beijing Opera performances. It comes from the real life experience. For example, an actor can practice the scene of galloping the horse simply by using a horsewhip without riding a real horse on stage. A bridge is made up of two chairs standing on each side of a table. Storms are realized by performers dancing with umbrellas. The imaginary performance skills largely bring to performers the freedom to express more life scenes.

Qimo

 

  • Four Famous Artists

Liyuan Theatre, Qianmen Hotel, BeijingThere are many famous masters who are good at performing Beijing Opera. Among them, the Four Famous Dans - Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Shang Xiaoyun and Xun Huisheng - are most well-known at home and abroad. They are experts in performing the role of Dan and each has his own artistic feature. Their wonderful performances are still appreciated by many audiences.

Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Shang Xiaoyun and Xun Huisheng

 

  • Beijing Opera Theaters

Beijing Opera contains the soul of Chinese national culture. Its unique charm inspires ethos of Chinese people. There is no doubt that it is really the treasure of Chinese culture. If you want to taste the real Beijing Opera, here are some good choices for you.
>> Liyuan Theater
It is the most famous theater for enjoying the Beijing Opera. In Liyuan Theater, you can sit around a Ba Xian Zhuo (old fashioned square table for eight people) and drink Chinese Tea. If you are interested, you can go into the dressing room to see how the actors are made up in various facial painting, something not allowed in other theaters.
  Ticket Fare: RMB200/280/380/480/580
  Address: No.175 Yongan Road, Xuanwu District
>> Chang'an Grand Theater
It is a perfect combination of classical and modern architecture. You will enjoy the elegant rosewood tables, comfortable soft seats and luxury VIP seats.
  Ticket Fare: RMB 80/100/180/280/380
  Address: No.7, Jianguomen Nei Dajie, Dongcheng District
>> Mei Lanfang Theater
This theater is named by the Beijing opera master—Mei Lanfang (1894~1961). The whole building has mixed the traditional opera theater and modern construction style perfectly, having a 1008-audience's capacity. The audience seats are distributed on four floors so that everyone could have a good viewing on the performance.
  Ticket Fare: RMB 50~2080
  Address: No.32, Ping'anli Xi Dajie, Xicheng District

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