- Chinese opera
Music of China Timeline General topics Genres Specific forms Media and performance Music festivals Midi Modern Music Festival Music media National anthem Regional music
Chinese opera (Chinese: 戏曲/戲曲; Pinyin: xìqǔ) is a popular form of drama and musical theatre in China with roots going back as far as the third century CE. There are numerous regional branches of Chinese opera, of which the Beijing opera (Jingju) is one of the most notable.
Canjun opera of the Three Kingdoms period was one of the first Chinese operatic forms. Chinese opera in a more organized form began in the Tang Dynasty with Emperor Xuanzong (712–755), who founded the "Pear Garden" (梨园/梨園; líyuán), the first known opera troupe in China. The troupe mostly performed for the emperors' personal pleasure. To this day operatic professionals are still referred to as "Disciples of the Pear Garden" (梨园弟子/梨園弟子, líyuán dìzi).
In the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368), forms like the Zaju (雜劇, zájù, variety plays), which acts based on rhyming schemes plus the innovation of having specialized roles like Dan (旦, dàn, female), Sheng (生, shēng, male), Hua (花, huā, painted-face) and Chou (丑, chŏu, clown) were introduced into the opera. Although actors in theatrical performances of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) strictly adhered to speaking in Classical Chinese onstage, during the Yuan Dynasty actors speaking in the vernacular tongue gained precedent on stage.
The dominant form of the Ming (1368–1644) and early Qing dynasties was Kunqu, which originated in the Wu cultural area. It later evolved into a longer form of play called chuanqi, which became one of the 5 melodies that made up Sichuan opera. Currently Chinese operas continue to exist in 368 different forms, the best known being Beijing opera, which assumed its present form in the mid-19th century and was extremely popular in the latter part of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).
In Beijing opera, traditional Chinese string and percussion instruments provide a strong rhythmic accompaniment to the acting. The acting is based on allusion: gestures, footwork, and other body movements express such actions as riding a horse, rowing a boat, or opening a door. Spoken dialogue is divided into recitative and Beijing colloquial speech, the former employed by serious characters and the latter by young females and clowns. Character roles are strictly defined. Elaborate make-up designs portray which character is acting. The traditional repertoire of Beijing opera includes more than 1,000 works, mostly taken from historical novels about political and military struggles.
1912 - 1949
In traditional Chinese theater, prior to Yuan Dynasty, no plays were performed in vernacular Chinese or without singing. Opera masks of all sorts of colors were used in many Chinese operas. At the turn of the 20th century, Chinese students returning from abroad began to experiment with Western plays. Following the May Fourth Movement of 1919, a number of Western plays were staged in China, and Chinese playwrights began to imitate this form. The most notable of the new-style playwrights was Cao Yu (b. 1910). His major works — Thunderstorm, Sunrise, Wilderness, and Peking Man — written between 1934 and 1940, have been widely read in China.
In the 1930s, theatrical productions performed by traveling Red Army cultural troupes in Communist-controlled areas were consciously used to promote party goals and political philosophy. By the 1940s, theater was well established in the Communist-controlled areas.
1949 - 1985
In the early years of the People's Republic of China, the development of Beijing opera was encouraged; many new operas on historical and modern themes were written, and earlier operas continued to be performed. As a popular art form, opera has usually been the first of the arts to reflect changes in Chinese policy. In the mid-1950s, for example, it was the first to benefit under the Hundred Flowers Campaign, such as the birth of Jilin opera. Similarly, the attack in November 1965 on Beijing deputy mayor Wu Han and his historical play, Hai Rui Dismissed from Office, signaled the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, most opera troupes were disbanded, performers and scriptwriters were persecuted, and all operas were banned except the eight "model operas" that had been sanctioned by Jiang Qing and her associates. Western-style plays were condemned as "dead drama" and "poisonous weeds" and were not performed. After the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976, Beijing Opera enjoyed a revival and continued to be a very popular form of entertainment both in theaters and on television.
Following the Cultural Revolution, both older and new works reappeared. Revised and banned plays from China and abroad were reinstated in the national repertoire. Many of the new plays strained at the limits of creative freedom were alternately commended and condemned, depending on the political atmosphere. One of the most outspoken of the new breed of playwrights was Sha Yexin. His controversial play "The Imposter" which dealt harshly with the favoritism and perquisites accorded party members, was first produced in 1979. In early 1980 the play was roundly criticized by Secretary General Hu Yaobang - the first public intervention in the arts since the Cultural Revolution. In the campaign against bourgeois liberalism in 1981 and the anti-spiritual pollution campaign in 1983, Sha and his works were again criticized. Through it all Sha continued to write for the stage and to defend himself and his works in the press. In late 1985 Sha Yexin was accepted into the Chinese Communist Party and appointed head of the Shanghai People's Art Theater, where he continued to produce controversial plays. Since then, he has again fallen into disfavour.
Chinese opera is seldom publicly staged in the 21st century, except in formal Chinese opera houses, and during the lunar seventh month Chinese Ghost Festival in Asia as a form of entertainment to the spirits and audience.
- Beijing opera 京剧
- YuJu opera 豫剧
- QuJu opera 曲剧
- YueDiao opera 越调
- Errenzhuan/Bangzixi/Benbeng opera 二人转 (Northeast China)
- Hebei bangzi 河北梆子 (Hebei)
- Jiju 吉剧 (Jilin)
- Lüju 吕剧 (Shandong)
- Pingju 评剧 (Hebei)
- Puju 蒲剧 (Shanxi)
- Qinqiang/Qin dynasty opera 秦腔 (Shaanxi)
- Shandong bangzi (Shandong)
- Shanxi bangzi (Shanxi)
- Zaju (Yuan opera)
- Rossabi, Morris (1988). Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05913-1.
- Shih, Chung-wen (1976). The Golden Age of Chinese Drama: Yüan Tsa-chu. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-06270-6
- Riley, Jo (1997). Chinese Theatre and the Actor in Performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57090-5
Hubei topics Wuhan (capital) General Geography Education CultureChinese opera • Nine-headed Bird Cuisine Visitor attractions
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Chinese opera — /ˌtʃaɪniz ˈɒpərə/ (say .chuyneez opuhruh) noun opera as it has developed in the Chinese musical and theatrical tradition, featuring a falsetto singing style, elaborate costumes, masks, and headdresses, and energetic swordplay and acrobatics … Australian English dictionary
A Night at the Chinese Opera — is an opera by Judith Weir. Aside from an earlier opera for children, this was Weir s first full scale opera, written on commission from the BBC for performance by Kent Opera. The work received its premiere on 8 July 1987 at the Everyman Theatre … Wikipedia
Dan (Chinese opera) — Dan in Beijing opera Dan (Chinese language: 旦角) is the general name for female roles in Chinese opera, often referring to leading roles. There are a few different kinds of dan in Chinese opera. Th … Wikipedia
Nanxi (Chinese opera) — Nanxi (南戏; or Nan hsi) is an early form of Chinese drama, developed from ancient traditions of mime, singing, and dancing during the Song Dynasty in the 12th century AD. The name means literally Southern drama , and the form originated in the… … Wikipedia
Chinese Singaporean — 新加坡华人 新加坡華人 … Wikipedia
Opera (disambiguation) — Opera is a Western performance art which combines music and drama. Opera may also refer to: Opera (web browser) Opera Software, a Norwegian software company In music: Ópera, album by Todmobile Opera (song), by Çetin Alp the Short Waves Chinese… … Wikipedia
Chinese theatre — has a long and complex history. Today it is often called Chinese opera although this normally refers specifically to the popular form known as Beijing Opera; there have been many other forms of theatre in China.History of Chinese theatreThere are … Wikipedia
Chinese State Circus — mobile box office, in Alexandra Park, London, 2007 The Chinese State Circus is a touring circus that aims to present Chinese circus arts to European audiences. The show is based on Chinese acrobatic acts. All the performers come from China and… … Wikipedia
Chinese theatre (disambiguation) — Chinese theatre may refer to: Chinese theatre, the theatre of China, now often called Chinese opera Chinese Village (Tsarskoe Selo), Russia, including the Chinese Opera Theatre of Catherine the Great Grauman s Chinese Theater, a Hollywood movie… … Wikipedia
Chinese intelligence activity abroad — Chinese intelligence is believed to be highly active outside of the People s Republic of China. China is the largest intelligence collector in the Netherlands, as well as in several other EU countries, and one of the top five intelligence… … Wikipedia