Peking Opera

Peking Opera
Bryan Sit
What it is/History
 Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese Theater.
 Combines
 Music
 Vocal performance
 Dance
 Mime
 Acrobatics
 Originally staged only for the court and was made available for the public later
 Arose in 18th century became popular in 19th century (particularly in the Qing dynasty)
 Uses four main skills.
 Song
 Speech
 Dance-acting
 Combat
 Women were not allowed to be in the plays.
Performers and Roles
 Performers are trained at an early age
 Performers are first trained in acrobatics, followed by singing and gestures
 There are four major roles
 Sheng 生
 Dan 旦
 Jing 净
 Chou 丑
Sheng 生
 Main Male Role
 Xiaosheng
 Sing in a high, shrill voice with occasional breaks to represent the voice changing
period of adolescence
 Often shown with beautiful women
 Laosheng
 Have a gentle and cultivated disposition and wear sensible costumes
 Hongsheng
 Red faced older male
 Guan Gong (god of brotherhood, loyalty) or Zhao Kuang-yin (First Emperor of song dynasty)
Dan 旦
 Any female role in the opera
 Divided in to 5 roles
 Laodan – Old women
 Wudan – Martial women
 Daomadan – Young female warriors
 Qingyi – Virtuous and elite women
 Huadan – Vivacious and unmarried women
Jing 净
 Face painted male role
 Will play either primary or secondary roles
 15 basic facial patterns but over 1000 variations
 Each design is unique
Chou 丑
 Male clown role
 Likeable, Foolish
 Plays secondary or minor roles
 Wenchou – civilian roles merchants and jailers
 Wuchou – minor military roles
Visual Elements
 Actors wear lots of make up
 Eyecatching costumes usually made in handicraft embroidery.
 Viewers are always seated south of the stage
 Actors center themselves on the stage signifying moving north
 All characters enter from east and exist on the west
 Stage
 Used to be square
 Now the stage is divided in to two parts front and back
Auditory Elements
 Performed using both classical Chinese and modern standard Chinese with
some slang.
 Four levels of song
 Songs with music
 Verse recitation
 Prose dialogue
 Non-verbal vocalizatons
Auditory Elements
Six main types of song lyrics
 Emotive
 Condemnatory
 Narrative
 Descriptive
 Disputive
 Shared space separate sensations
Auditory Elements
 Music
 Music is classified in to two groups
 Xipi and erhong
 Slow and quick patterns
 Main instruments are
 Jinghu
 Yueqin
 Sanxian
 Cymbals and gongs
Popular Operas
 There are over 1400 operas that are based on Chinese History, Folklore, and
contemporary life.
 Notable mentions are
 Journey To the West
 Farewell my Concubine
Works Cited