Beijing opera is a form of traditional
Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance,
mime, dance and acrobatics. It arose in the late 18th
century and became fully developed and recognized by
the mid-19th century,The form was extremely popular
in the Qing Dynasty court and has come to be regarded
as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance
troupes are based in Beijing and Tianjin in the north,
and Shanghai in the south. The art form is also enjoyed
in Taiwan, where it is known as Guoju. It has also spread
to other countries such as the United States and Japan.
Beijing opera features four main types
of performers. Performing troupes often have several
of each variety, as well as numerous secondary and tertiary
performers. With their elaborate and colorful costumes,
performers are the only focal points on Beijing opera's
characteristically sparse stage. They utilize the skills
of speech, song, dance, and combat in movements that
are symbolic and suggestive, rather than realistic.
Above all else, the skill of performers is evaluated
according to the beauty of their movements. Performers
also adhere to a variety of stylistic conventions that
help audiences navigate the plot of the production.
The layers of meaning within each movement must be expressed
in time with music. The music of Beijing opera can be
divided into the Xipi and Erhuang styles. Melodies include
arias, fixed-tune melodies, and percussion patterns.
The repertoire of Beijing opera includes over 1,400
works, which are based on Chinese history, folklore,
and, increasingly, contemporary life.
In recent years, Beijing opera has
attempted numerous reforms in response to sagging audience
numbers. These reforms, which include improving performance
quality, adapting new performance elements, and performing
new and original plays, have met with mixed success.
Some Western works have been adopted as new plays, but
a lack of funding and an adverse political climate have
left Beijing opera's fate uncertain as the form enters
the 21st centur.
Cloud Taoist Temple
Center "Water Cube"
Stadium "Bird's Nest"