Theater Arts -- Beijing Opera

Throughout the 18th -19th century, Peking opera, more commonly understood as Beijing Opera, flourished in the Qing Dynasty. Native to the Anhui and Hubei province, this art later became Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai's cultural jewel.

Theater Arts -- Beijing Opera

The motions of the dancers are incredibly stylish. Discussions, music, dance, combat, and tune are used to the entire degree to portray the story, which majorly revolves around Chinese age-old folklore and history. The Beijing opera entertainers use intense colored attire to be the center of destination on a moderately embellished phase. The dialect used in dialogue shipment is archaic. However, given that it has a tremendous historical value, the performers truly worked hard to respect and carry on the tradition.

At an incredibly tender age, the training was started, which lasted for seven years on authorization from the parents. The student was expected to repay the teacher by future performance. The day-to-day routine included an early increase followed by training in acting, acrobatics, and martial art. The senior trainees perform at night theaters. Upon committing a mistake, the entire lot of students were punished with a bamboo walking cane; however, training ended up being milder during the 1900s. These schools were shut down during the Japanese invasion in 1931; however again restored in 1952. The prominent schools prevalent in this art are the Ma Lianliang school, the Qi Lintong school, and the Cheng Yanqiu school. The repository of this opera includes about one thousand and four hundred works.

The two various music styles being played are Xipi, created by the Anhui tropes, and Erhuang, produced by the Hubei tropes. Based on this music, the earliest name of Beijing opera was Pihuang which was altered according to geographical location and time.

What Is Beijing Opera?

It is a synthesis of stylized action, dialogue, mime, acrobatic fighting, martial plays, dancing, and singing to represent a story or illustrate different characters and their feelings of happiness, gladness, anger, sadness, sorrow, worry, sadness, and surprise. With its distinctive Chinese opera masks, their images are constantly vividly manifested in brilliant costumes that reveal the styles of ancient China, which is one of China's most recognizable cultural icons. Combining Theatre, Music, Dance, and Martial Arts have existed for over 200 years, portraying Literature and Historical Events with vibrant performance, style, and beauty.

"Peking opera" is the term for the art form; the term "Beijing opera" is a more recent equivalent for this form of theatre.

The Four Anhui Troupes was responsible for the birth of Beijing opera in the late 1700s. This type of art is, in fact, a mix of numerous dance kinds and music with a unique twist. There are four leading characters in this form of theatre.

In China, the art form has actually been known under numerous names in different regional forms and times. "Although it is named Peking opera (Beijing theatre style), its roots are in the southern Anhui Hubei, which shares the same dialect of Xiajiang Mandarin (Lower Yangtze Mandarin)." The combination of the Xipi and Erhuang two main melodies, derived from Han Opera, provides the earliest Chinese name, Pihuang. "The tune of Peking opera is extremely related to that of Han opera; therefore, Han opera is widely recognized as the Mother of Peking opera." As it increased in level of popularity, its name became Jingxi or Jingju, which revealed its inauguration in the capital city ( Chinese pinyin: Jīng ). Between 1927 to 1949, when Beijing was known as Beiping, Peking opera was known as Pingju or Pingxi to reflect this change. In 1949 with the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the designation of the capital city was gone back to Beijing. Thus, the official name of this form of theatre in Mainland China was set as Jingju. The Taiwanese pseudonym for this type of opera, Guoju, or "national drama," reflects disagreements over the actual seat of the Chinese government.

Most significant of all operas in China, with many famous artists that give it a profound influence in China, and it has a richness of repertoire. Thus, the traditional plays share a significant role in preserving Chinese culture for new generations.


Peking Opera carries a history of over 200 years. For the eightieth birthday of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1790), 'Four Great Anhui Province Troupes' entered the capital and combined with Yiyang opera, Kunqu opera, Luantan opera, and Hanju to gradually formed Peking opera's melodies. It was initially staged for the court and only made available to the public later. It is generally regarded that Peking opera was fully formed by 1845.

Throughout the 18th century and 19th century, Peking opera, more commonly known as Beijing Opera, flourished in the Qing Dynasty. There are four leading characters, and acrobatics came to its complete kind in an opera theater. After forming the Beijing opera, the Anhui troupe gained name and fame and were welcomed to numerous kingdoms to carry out. Then, in the 1870s, a former Beijing opera entertainer, Li Maoer, started a female troupe, which convinced others to take the lead, and finally, the ban was lifted in 1912.

In the 19th century, a theater district developed itself in central Beijing, simply south of the Imperial City. The playhouses likewise worked as tea homes, and customers were served food and tea as they enjoyed the programs. Especially, the powerful Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was an enthusiastic patron of Peking Opera. She had 2 stages constructed in the Summer Palace, in addition to a smaller size stage in her private quarters, and typically summoned the city's most gifted artists to the royal palace to perform for her. (

The appeal of Peking opera has actually been credited to the simpleness of the form of theatre, with just a couple of singing patterns and voices, allowing anyone to sing the arias themselves.

One of 100 portraits of Peking form of theatre characters housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art At the time of its development in the late 19th century, albums became used to show aspects of stage culture, including makeup and outfits of performers. (

During the 2nd half of the 20th century, Peking opera saw a constant decline in audience numbers, being attributed to a reduction in efficiency quality and a failure of the standard opera form to catch modern-day life. In addition, the archaic language of Peking opera required productions to utilize electronic subtitles, which hindered the development of the kind. Finally, the influence of Western culture has actually likewise left the younger generations impatient with the slow pacing of Peking opera.

In reaction, Peking opera began to see reform in the 1980s. Such reforms have actually created a school of performance theory to increase performance quality, use modern elements to bring in brand-new audiences, and perform new plays beyond the traditional canon. But, unfortunately, these reforms have been hindered by both a lack of funding and an unfavorable political climate that makes the performance of brand-new plays challenging.

The spirit of reform continues through the 1990s. To make it through in a progressively open market, performers like the Shanghai Peking Opera Company needed to bring conventional Peking opera to new audiences. To do this, they have provided an increasing variety of free performances in public locations.


Theater Arts -- Beijing Opera

Main Roles in Beijing Opera Performance

In the past hundreds of years, Peking's roles have actually been streamlined to today's Sheng, Dan, Jing, and Chou, known as the four significant roles in Chinese theater.

The Sheng's the common name of the main male role and composed of Xiao Sheng and Lao Sheng. Xiao Sheng suggests a young male without a beard. In 'The Story of the West Room, ' Zhangsheng is a representative of Xiao Sheng. Sheng is a middle-aged man with a beard who acts as the decency figure; Zhugeliang in 'Empty City Scheme.'

The Dan describes any female role in Peking opera.

The primary name for female characters can be divided into Laodan, Wudan, Huadan, Zhengdan. Laodan describes the senior lady and Wudan's female role traditional plays by a brave middle-aged warrior. Huadan is an innocent and young woman who frequently lives at the bottom of society. Zhengdan is also called 'Qingyi,' who primarily plays the part of the strong-minded middle-aged female who behaves elegantly. The role of Qingyi and Huadan together is understood as Huashan.

The Jing refers to a painted face male role with a distinct personality or appearance. Depending on the repertory of the particular troupe, he will play either a primary or secondary role. This type of role will require a powerful character, so a Jing must have a strong voice and be able to exaggerate gestures.

The Chou is a male comic role or righteous individual or atrocious character. The Chou typically plays a secondary role in a troupe. The actor's nose is painted by a piece of white powder, making him or her easily recognizable. Chou has the significance of "ugly" in Chinese, reflecting the traditional belief that the clown's mix of ugliness and laughter could send away evil spirits. Chou's roles can be divided into Wen Chou, the civilian roles such as merchants and jailers, and Wu Chou, minor military roles.

Chou's character hardly got an opportunity to sing compared to the Kunqu opera theater, which was its motivation. On the whole, this art type cuts down on the voice and singing. Balancings came to their complete kind plays in Chinese Theater.

Where Can I See Peking Opera in Beijing?

You love going to the opera. Or maybe you hate listening to operatic music. Or perhaps you have simply never even been to the opera.

It truly does not matter, since Peking Opera, or Beijing Opera, is quite different from western opera, and you honestly should give it a chance. In it, you will find the essence of China, so it is fascinating, and you might enjoy it.

Peking-opera houses in Beijing

Overall ambiance and fundamental to the performance of traditional Peking opera is the venue. There are numerous restored establishments in Beijing dating from the late 17th century onwards, the opera stage at Prince Gong Mansion Zhengyici-xi-lou Huguang Guild Hall, being among them. However, modern venues for the theatre stage and general operatic are also typical. The Chang'an Grand Theatre, situated on East Chang'an Avenue and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, is an example of modern Peking art theatre.


Li Yuan Theater - The Best Place to Enjoy the Beijing Opera

Li Yuan literally suggests a pear garden in Chinese and also refers to the place where opera artists trained. Numerous Chinese theater masters often play here.

Location: 1st Floor,

Qianmen Jianguo Hotel NO.175,

Yong'an Road, Xuanwu

District, Beijing


Time: 7:30pm – 9:00pm daily year-round


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