Beijing Opera - 京剧
1790 - four local troupes come from Anhui to Beijing, to give performances at the Qing Court
1828 - started performing together with troupes from Hubei for the Qing Court
Influenced by Beijing Dialect, drawn from each others styles, local operas, especially singing
Developed distinctive features then became Beijing Opera - 京剧
Until mid 20's-30's women were not allowed to perform together on stage so men filled all the woman roles
During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) it suffered in its traditional forms but was adopted to modern theme plays - Eight Modern Plays: Anti-Japan War, War against the Nationalists
After it has started to make a revival but because the young people did not grow up watching it so it is not as popular with them, more for the older generation
Adapted from both mythology and historical stories as well as novels and other famous events
Simplicity of stage and props according to traditional conventions - time dealt with freely
- table: desk, bed, elevation device
- chairs: position of chair makes difference between use
- mountain rock (cloth covered frame): hilly country, mountain pass
- water flags carried by four actors: river or flood ; wind flags
- horse whip: riding a horse
- oar: in a boat
- duster: as a symbol of greatest refinement
- circle the stage: taking a long journey
Structure of scenes - either one scene or a few connected scenes: Zhe Zi Xi -
Full length plays: Da Xi
Uses jing ju hua 京剧话: beautified form of Beijing hua 北京话.
Orchestra provides accompaniment to the singing as well as keeps rhythm during certain movements and for effect at pivotal moments
Instruments of orchestra:
- clappers ban 板: made of bamboo main percussion instrument
- small drum and big drum for effect during battle, also cymbals, gong
- jing hu 京胡/er hu 二胡: two stringed bow instrument, main accompaniment to singing
- moon mandolin yue qin 月琴/four-stringed lute pi pa 琵琶: used to support the jinghu
- flute di zi 笛子: also sometimes accompanies singing
- reed organ : only harmonic voice though not very loud
- Chinese clarinet: usually used as a solo instrument
Singing ~ Aria
- express the characters emotions and tell the story
- lines formed in couplets: usually 7 characters per line, must end with rhyme
- first line ends with oblique rhymes, second line ends with even tone
- emphasis on being smooth and easy to understand
Characters: Types of Roles
Sheng 生: Males Roles
Wen Sheng 文生 - Civilian roles
Lao sheng 老生: middle age to older men, wear beards and faces are not painted. Proficient in acting and singing - usually plays the roles of court official, scholar, men of gentility
Xiao sheng 小生: young men, does not wear beards. Sings in high pitched voice to denote youngness. Refined and cultured.
Wu Sheng 武生: Military roles - warrior/swordsman. Proficient in martial skills/acrobatics.
Dan 旦: Female Roles
Qing yi 情意: young or middle aged woman. Concentration on singing, moving being more reserved in nature.
Hua dan 花旦: vivacious maiden, lively, sometimes of questionable character. Emphasis on acting and charming appearance of movements.
Cai dan 彩旦: lively like hua dan but more comical and detestable - mischievous.
Wu dan 武旦: strong, vibrant character. Proficient in martial skills/acrobatics, plays roles of warrior/swordsman, fairy maiden with magical powers.
Lao dan 老旦: elderly woman, motherly, might walk with a cane. Proficient in acting and singing, sings in natural voice.
Jing 警: Painted Face hua lian 花脸 - gives vivid expression of the characters main feature
Zheng jing 正警: usually cast as a positive role - prince, marshall, or court minister. Stress is on singing supplemented by music.
Fu jing 负警: usually cast as a negative character - treacherous court officials, betrayer. Spoken parts are most used.
Wu jing 武警: emphasis on martial skills/acrobatics. Deities are often played as this character.
Chou 丑: Clown - easily recognizable by the white paint on the middle of their face
Wen chou 文丑: mainly performed through singing and acting parts. Spoken is divided between rhyme parts and Beijing Dialect part. Represent magistrates, boatmen.
Wu chou 武丑: warrior clown, again martial skills/acrobatics, but even further then the other wu parts, being able to turn somersaults, ever move very clearly enunciated.
Most of the costumes consist of robe type garments with long inner sleeves which are used in acting for added effect: using it to talk aside behind or extended when angry
Armor is the other principle costume worn by warriors or deities in battle
Several kinds of helmets, crowns, and hats - plumes are usually worn by distinguished figures or those with special powers - crowns ornately decorated for those who are noble or powerful
Beards are also employed as characteristic devices, holding and stroking the beard being very ornamental
Shoes with platforms for elevation of dignitaries and other important characters.
Very precise posture and movement used to express the characters feelings while also always being attractive to the eye. Even walking has a specific movement developed for it, everything has a proper form.
Hands take a special role: males holding the fingers street thumb out, while women curve fingers in slightly with the index finger straight. Also forming a fist has specific form.
Body posture should be straight chest out, shoulders flat.
Eyes and facial expressions are also very important revealing feelings not revealed in speech.
Play - The Crossroads San Cha Kou 三岔口
Jiao Zan, a general, is unjustly convicted and exiled. His commanding officer thinks he is innocent so he send Ren Tanghui, a expert swordsman, to follow and protect him.
Jiao Zan goes to an inn and the crossroads, the owner is Liu Lihua. He takes a liking to Jiao Zan and hears some of his companions plotting to kill him so he vows to protect him.
Ren then comes to the inn on his mission to protect Jiao and both Liu and Ren think the other is trying to harm Jiao.
Liu sneaks into Ren's room at night and a fight in the dark ensues, not until Liu's wife comes in with a candle does everyone realize who ever one is and everything is explained.
The misunderstanding is then cleared up.