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Friday, March 6, 2009

Macau - Chinese Opera Costumes 1991


Chinese Opera

Chinese opera is a traditional dramatic form which sizes literature, music, dance, fine arts, martial arts and acrobatics. Its origin can be traced back as far as to primitive society and the prototype of Chinese opera already appeared in the Song Dynasty 800 years ago. In the long course of evolution, it was enriched and improved and gradually formed a complete artistic system of its own. There are many tune systems in Chinese opera which are typical features to distinguish one opera from another. The operas derived from different dialects, folk songs and folk music and at the same time interacted on each other. Roles or characters are divided into four categories: Sheng (males), Dan (females), Jing (males with painted face) and Chou (clowns). Its acting is featured by highly stylized movements from daily life and by a very imaginative usage of the stage to deal with the problem of space, emphasizing singing , acting , reciting and skilful acrobatic fighting.

Chinese opera has more than 360 local types, totalling more than ten thousand plays. After the founding of the people's Republic of China, many revised traditional plays, newly arranged historical plays and plays reflecting contemporary life have appeared on stage and were warmly received by vast audiences. More than fifty Chinese operas enjoy great popularity, such as Beijing Opera, Kun Opera, Shaoxing Opera, Yu Opera. Yue Opera, Qin Opera, Chuan Opera, Ping Opera, jin Opera, Han Opera, Chao Opera, Min Opera, Hebei Clapper Opera, Xiang Opera, Huangmei Opera and Hunan Huagu Opera. Beijing Opera enjoys special reputation all over China.

Beining Opera, once called 'Peking Opera', is the most influential and representative of all operas in China and has a history of about 200 years. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a local opera troupe from Anhui Province came to Beijing and brought its 'Hui Tune' (which originated in Anhui Pronince and was called 'Pihuang' opera) to the capital. It soon became prevalent. In the course of evolution, it partly drew and adopted repertoire, tune and manner of perfromance from Kun Opera (a local opera from Jiangsu area) and Qin Opera (a local opera from Shaanxi Province) as well as folk tunes, gradually developing into what we now call Beijing Opera. Placing emphasis on dancing as well as on singing, it adopted the skills of Chinese martial arts and created its own uniquely stylized, fictitious and strongly rhythmical movements.Singing and reciting show elaborate articulation and phrasing . Systemized in its four categories of singing, acting reciting and acrobatic fighting, Beijing Opera has exerted a strong influence on other local operas.

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